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Panthers Break Even With Win Over Rams, But Defense Seals It

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By Danny Cox

The Carolina Panthers have looked almost stellar in their two victories this season as they went into Sunday’s game with the St. Louis Rams. The offense had looked brilliant in a 38-0 win over the Giants and a 35-10 win over the Vikings, but it didn’t seem to have the same spark at home this week.

Still, there was plenty for the Panthers to be happy about in their 30-15 victory over the Rams in a game that saw the defense step it up, and tempers flare every couple of minutes.

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 20:  Sione Fua #94 of the Carolina Panthers tackles Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams during play at Bank of America Stadium on October 20, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

(Credit, Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Coaching: B

Coach Ron Rivera called a good game, but it was really run heavy. None the less, it got the job done and led to a lot of clock being taken away from the Rams and a number of Graham Gano field goals. One thing that could have been improved on was the attitude of the team as a whole.

There was bad blood on both sides and tempers flared the entire game, but it just seemed that no one could be kept under control. Steve Smith is a veteran that has been around for over a decade and he really needs to set a better example out there rather than instigating and egging on opponents. Rivera has got to calm his team down in situations like that.

Yes, it was both sides, but a coach has to step up.

Offense: B

The offense of the Panthers did its job, but didn’t really do a whole lot. Cam Newton played brilliantly as he went 15 of 17 for 204 yards and one touchdown. The running game combined for over 100 yards between Newton, Mike Tolbert, and DeAngelo Williams. Points were put on the board and enough to win the game.

The problem is that a lot of drives kept stalling. Gano kicked two field goals after drives stalled in the red zone, and against better opponents, three points isn’t going to cut it. Carolina may not have turned the ball over and put up semi-decent numbers, but drives have to be finished stronger.

Defense: A+

Defensively is where the Panthers shined on Sunday and it started quickly. Captain Munnerlyn picked off Sam Bradford on the first play of the game and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown. That right there was enough to give them a passing grade, but they did so much more to the Rams.

St. Louis had a mere 317 yards of total offense and the third-ranked defense of the Panthers showed their stuff. They forced three turnovers, scored one touchdown, and racked up four sacks.

Special Teams: A

Gano was the star on the day as he hit all three of his field goal attempts. That includes a 50-yarder and three extra points to give him 12 points on the day.

Brad Nortman had a good day punting. He booted three times for a great average of 51.3 yards and had one downed inside of the Rams 20.

Ted Ginn Jr. had a decent day in the return game as well, even though he didn’t get a lot of opportunities. His one punt return resulted in nothing, but he averaged 27 yards on two kick returns to give the Panthers some good field position.

Grade: A

For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.

Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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