Cam Newton return has viral impact on Carolina Panthers roster
So much for slowly working the former league MVP into the game plan. The first two times that Cam Newton touched the football in the first quarter of the Carolina Panthers (4-5) matchup against the Cardinals the team scored a touchdown. Those two events led to Cam Newton reaching 43 career games with a rushing + passing touchdown. That mark ranks Newton first in NFL history in that category.
Newton's energy spilled over to the defensive side of the ball. After two big previous stops by the Carolina defense, Donte Jackson intercepted a Colt McCoy pass intended for Antoine Wesley to give the Panthers offense their third drive of the first quarter. The Panthers left Newton on the field for two plays. But after an errant pass PJ Walker came back to run the offense and continued the drive with a dart to Robby Anderson. The drive contributed to the Panthers' 106 yards from scrimmage in the first quarter and was capped by a Zane Gonzalez field goal to give the Panthers a 17-0 lead with time winding down in the period.
The Arizona Cardinals (8-1) offense, with Colt McCoy at the helm , struggled to muster their normal energy with Kylar Murray under center. The Cardinals were also with key offensive weapon DeAndre Hopkins.
1 QB Kyler Murray
10 WR DeAndre Hopkins
17 WR Andy Isabella
29 RB Jonathan Ward
38 S James Wiggins
67 G Justin Pugh
73 OL Max Garcia
The second quarter started with the defensive fire that contributed to the panthers' defense being ranked among the league's best. The Carolina defense held the Cardinals to 76 yards of total offense in the first half.
The Panthers offensive unit finished the first half with 249 yards from scrimmage.
The Panthers launched one of their best rushing efforts of the season. That running attack featured Christian McCaffrey. The team, 3-1 with McCaffrey in the lineup, saw his efforts pay big dividends on Sunday. McCaffrey had 90 yards on ten carries along with 39 yards receiving to finish the first half. The Panthers rushing performance included 17 attempts for 119 yards with contributions from McCaffrey, Hubbard, Abdullah as well as Cam Newton.
Christian McCaffrey's quarter-by-quarter rushing performance
Zane Gonzalez connected on field goals from 44 and a 48 yards in the initial two quarters to help the Panthers to a 23-0 lead going in the half. He went on to a perfect 4-4 performance.
The second half saw the sluggishness of losses past creep into the Panthers offensive efforts. The Cardinals forced a punt on the Panthers first drive of the second half after a four-play effort that was marred by two penalties.
Matt Prader's 47-yard kick and a James Conner 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter were the only real sparks of the game for Arizona. Chris Streveler entered the game when McCoy went down in the third quarter.
But the slumber was short lived for Carolina. Hubbard finished an eight play 75-yard drive to lift the Panthers to a 31-3 lead which they never jeopardized, despite a Chuba Hubbard third quarter fumble, en route to the 34-10 win.
The most impressive stat of the day, however, was the time of possession for the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers controlled the clock well keeping the ball 37:42 compared o the Cardinals 22-18.
What we learned:
The Carolina Panthers faithful as well as the football universe learned a very impartant fact. Cam Newton still has a lot left in the tank even it may come in the form of his effect on how people play more inspired football around him. And it also showed he could play a role other than starting quarterback with class ...at least for now.
Another lesson that was confirmed was that Christian McCaffrey is the best running back in the NFL when he's healthy. McCaffrey finished the game 13-for-95 yards and 66 receiving yards en route to the Panthers 34-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
PJ Walker has incredible bounce-back potential. After throwing a second quarter interception, Walker came back to make 20 more completions to help secure his second NFL win as a starter..
What Matt Rhule wants, Matt Rhule eventually gets. The Panthers head coach said he wanted to establish a true running game in Carolina and they've been working toward that goal. On Sunday, they hit the "respectable" button with regard to the 33 attempts per game Rhule layed out as a bench mark. The Panthers finished the game 37-for-166 yards on the ground and totaled 341 yards from scrimmage.
The Carolina Panthers defense is as advertised. The Panthers had 4 sacks courtesy of Hassan Reddick, Morgan Fox and Shaq Thompson. They also held the Cardinals to 160 yards from scrimmage.
The next task for the Carolina Panthers will be an emotion-filled one. Next week, the team hosts former anthers head coach Ron Rivera and his Washington Football Team a Bank of America Stadium.