By Danny Cox
Cam Newton has molded into a true leader for the Carolina Panthers, but he is not the only reason they are having so much success this season. Despite the Atlanta Falcons dealing with countless injuries this season, they are always a dangerous opponent and a win over them always means a great accomplishment.
Not only did the Panthers defeat the Falcons handily on Sunday, but they did it with success in every aspect of the game. It wasn’t pretty in every facet, but the job was done and done well.
Coaching Grade: B
Ron Rivera called another balanced game on offense with 38 passing plays and 33 rushing plays. Carolina’s coach has a good game plan in place, and there is no need to change it each week as long as the team keeps succeeding and winning with it.
Offense Grade: C+
Cam Newton had a decent game through the air as he passed for 249 yards, but he considers his play as “unacceptable” and that’s due to the two interceptions he threw. Both picks came during the first half, and he actually overthrew his receivers on a number of plays with the majority coming on deep balls.
The running game got a boost from the return of Jonathan Stewart, but there still wasn’t a whole lot to be seen. Stewart finished with 43 yards and DeAngelo Williams had a mere 42. The production out of the running game is opening the passing game more, but one has to wonder what exactly happened to the thrill of Bash and Dash.
Defense Grade: A+
Atlanta has never been shabby on offense, and that is easy to say with Matt Ryan at the helm, but the Panthers made them seem that way. The Falcons had a mere 289 yards of total offense and committed four turnovers. Three of those were interceptions thrown by Ryan and one was returned for a touchdown by Panthers cornerback Drayton Florence. Ryan was also sacked once.
The rushing game of Atlanta was held completely in check with Steven Jackson chalking up just 57 yards on 13 carries and Jacquizz Rodgers fumbling on one of his five carries. The game was beautifully played by the Panthers defense, and except a 41-yard pass to Harry Douglas, the Falcons didn’t have a play over 19 yards the entire game.
Special Teams Grade: A
The special teams of the Panthers continues to impress. Well, the return team didn’t get much of a chance to impress because there were no recorded kickoff returns and Ted Ginn Jr. only returned on punt. Still, he had a good return of 24 yards.
Graham Gano was perfect on the day with a short 20-yard chip shot, but nailed a big 55-yarder in the third quarter to give Carolina a push to their big win.
Brad Nortman had another good game punting as he booted three for an average of 42.7 yards. The boomer was for 57 yards and two were downed inside the Falcons 20-yard line.
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.