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Lost in all the hullabaloo over 4th fact that Sunday’s game in Washington
March 15, 2019 03:48AM
Adrian Peterson was able to pick up a few first downs with his legs , but the Panthers counterbalanced that by stifling Washington’s aerial attack. The Panthers held their opposition to just 4.3 yards per play and kept them out of the end zone for the final 48 minutes of the game. There were some warts, like the third down defense, but it was a strong showing overall for a group that had been the team’s Achilles heel in recent weeks. They’ll need to carry that upward momentum into Philadelphia where they’ll face an Eagles team that’s much bigger threat than their most recent opponent. The Eagles enter the week flying high after a Thursday night dismantling of a Giants team that gave the Panthers all they could handle. It looked like a coming out party for an Eagles offense that has thus far failed to recapture the offensive magic that helped carry them to a Super Bowl victory last season. The lack of success to this point in the season is not a reason to take this Eagles offense lightly. Most of the same cast has returned from last season. Running backs LaGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi are gone, as well as current Panther Torrey Smith, but the most important pieces are still there. Carson Wentz is rounding back into form and playing like his old self. Alshon Jeffery is coming off a two touchdown performance in his third game back from shoulder surgery. Zach Ertz is a nightmare. The list goes on. The Panthers defense needs to make big impact if the team is going to fly back to Charlotte with a 4-2 record. Philadelphia has a strong defense in its own right, so asking the offense to carry the load like they did against the Bengals and Giants might be asking too much. Here’s what the defense needs to dotongue sticking out smileyressure and sack Carson Wentz. The Eagles have allowed 48 quarterback hits so far this season, the 4th most in the NFL. Wentz is a sack escape artist, much like Cam Newton, and its vital that the pass rush finish the job when they get into the backfield. The third year quarterback has only thrown one interception this season, and he’s throwing into tight windows less than almost any other quarterback in the league, so just getting in his face probably won’t be enough to make a splash impact. Lock down the intermediate area of the field in the passing game. This should come easy to a Panthers defense that prioritizes getting depth in their zones and keeping pass plays in front of them. Wentz’s best area of the field is between 10 and 20 yards downfield. He’s not an exceptional short passer, so some pressure could force him to air mail some short passes to open receivers. But he’ll tear teams apart on deep digs and post routes. The Panthers have to be ready to take those away. Don’t play for punts on 4th and short. The Eagles are again among the most aggressive teams in the league at going for it on 4th down. Stopping them for a five yard gain on 3rd and 7 is far from a sure bet to get the Eagles offense off the field. The defense needs to treat 3rd down as if it were 2nd down once the Eagles get anywhere near midfield. The Panthers defense is in for a tough test on Sunday. Last week they showed signs of being the strong unit many pegged them to be before the season. They need to build on that success and make their mark on the game if the Panthers want to knock the reigning Super Bowl champions to a sub-.500 record.Panthers 24 Falcons 31: 3 plays to love, 3 plays to hate Plays to Love, Plays to Hate (aka “P2L, P2H”) looks at the most significant plays in swinging momentum and impacting the eventual outcome of the game. There is always plenty to hate about NFL officiating, so we will only focus on the plays on the field, not the refs.Three plays to love2nd Quarter 10:28 – Panthers 3 Cheap Ryan Kalil Jersey , Falcons 3. Panthers ball 3rd-and-5 at ATL 15The Situation: The Panthers faced third down in the red zone, looking for a touchdown instead of a field goal attempt. The Play: Cam Newton dropped to pass, felt pressure, and rolled out of the pocket to buy time. Cam then threw against his body - on the run - to Devin Funchess for a first down. The play extended the drive which ended in a touchdown instead of a field goal attempt. Just incredible athleticism, strength, and smarts from an elite quarterback. 3rd Quarter 14:20 – Panthers 10, Falcons 17. Falcons ball 1st-and-10 at CAR 39The Situation: The Falcons took a seven point lead into the half then started the third quarter with the ball. Their first play was a 30-yard gain to the Carolina 39, then Wes Horton came up big on the next play.The Play: Matt Ryan dropped back to throw a bomb to a streaking Julio Jones, but Wes Horton appeared to contact Ryan’s arm on the release. Ryan’s pass looked more like a punt and Donte Jackson was able to come down with an easy interception.4th Quarter 2:30 – Panthers 17, Falcons 31. Panthers ball 1st-and-10 at CAR 49The Situation: The game looked just about over with Carolina trailing by two touchdowns and the two-minute warning drawing near, but then D.J. Moore happened. The Play: D.J. Moore ran a deep in route over the middle, caught the pass, shook off a tackler, then sprinted 51-yards for a momentum-shifting score. The play pulled the Panthers deficit to just seven points and gave the team one last shot at a late comeback. Three plays to hate2nd Quarter 7:25 – Panthers 10, Falcons 3. Falcons ball 3rd-and-9 at ATL 26The Situation: Call this the “Donte Jackson Implosion Sequence.” The Play: On 3rd-and-9, Matt Ryan’s pass fell incomplete to force an apparent punt, but Donte Jackson was called for (a questionable) pass interference to extend the drive. Two plays later Donte got juked at the line of scrimmage by Tevin Coleman who ran for 36 yards to the Carolina 24. The drive ended when Calvin Ridley beat Jackson in man coverage for a touchdown. Horrible sequence by the rookie cornerback. 3rd Quarter 13:01 – Panthers 10 Cheap James Bradberry Jersey , Falcons 17. Panthers ball 3rd-and-2 at CAR 10The Situation: The Panthers offense took possession on the Carolina 2 following Donte Jackson’s interception. Three plays later they faced 3rd-and-2 from the 10, hoping to convert a first down and avoid punting from their own end zone. The Play: Devin Funchess ran past the first down sticks and Cam delivered a beautiful ball to his back shoulder, just past the defender. But instead of catching it, Funch let the ball bounce off his shoulder pad for an incompletion on a pass he absolutely must catch. This play led to a domino effect of: 1) Punting from the end zone, 2) The Falcons fair catching the punt at the Atlanta 42, and 3) Atlanta capitalizing on the good field position to eventually score a touchdown for a 24-10 lead. 4rd Quarter 6:26 – Panthers 17, Falcons 31. Panthers ball 1st-and-10 at ATL 22The Situation: The Panthers ripped off 53 yards on consecutive passes to Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith to get near the red zone, finally getting some momentum. Trailing by two touchdowns in the fourth, Carolina desperately needed a score. The Play: C.J. Anderson ran a short route, turned around, and was hit right in the hands with a perfect dump-off pass from Cam. But the ball went right through Anderson’s hands and off his shoulder pad where it then popped up into the air and was intercepted by Ricardo Allen. This play was an absolute killer on a drive where the Panthers were getting so close to a much-needed fourth quarter score. Bonus play to both love and hate4th Quarter 8:11 – Panthers 17, Falcons 24. Falcons ball 2nd-and-2 at CAR 5The Situation: Atlanta led by seven early in the fourth quarter. They sustained a long drive that put them just five yards away from a touchdown to go up by 14. Carolina’s D needed a huge play. The Play: Ito Smith took a handoff off right tackle and Kawann Short knocked the ball out of his hands, forcing a fumble. For one beautiful, glorious, hope-filled moment the ball bounced around on the turf waiting for someone to jump on it. This was perhaps Carolina’s last best shot to slow down a Falcon’s offense that had dominated them all day. When a fumble hits the ground it’s usually a 50-50 proposition if the offense or defense will recover. In the end, Atlanta’s Brandon Fusco fell on the ball and the Falcons scored a touchdown on the very next play to take a 31-17 lead. The game could have been totally different if the Panthers recover this fumble. I “loved” the play by KK Short but “hated” the fact the Panthers couldn’t come up with the fumble and prevent another Atlanta score. Closing it out and summing it upThis was a fairly predictable loss. Disappointing, yes Cheap Cam Newton Jersey , but at the same time the sky isn’t falling quite yet. Jarius Wright continues to impress while Christian McCaffrey is quickly becoming the only consistently viable offensive weapon. The patchwork offensive line held up fairly well considering our starting left tackle Chris Clark was signed four days before the game. On defense, James Bradberry should be commended for the part he played in limiting Julio Jones to just five receptions (on nine targets) for 64 yards and zero touchdowns. There were many negatives in this game though. The normally dominant front four was shockingly bad, registering zero sacks on Matt Ryan (on 28 attempts) and rarely even pressuring the Falcons QB while also getting destroyed by Atlanta’s rushing attack. If the front four plays like this the rest of the season, Carolina has no shot at the playoffs. Every wide receiver minus Jarius Wright has been pretty bad so far. It seems Carolina’s receivers are almost never wide open and completions only happen when Cam throws a perfect pass. The 1-1 Panthers hope to right the ship against a suddenly frisky 2-0 Cincinnati Bengals team next week. Let’s hope the front four and the wide receivers show up this time. Plays to love season leaders1 - Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Kawann Short, Mario Addison, Wes HortonPlays to hate season leaders1 - Amini Silatolu, C.J. Anderson, Christian McCaffrey, Devin Funchess, Donte Jackson, Mike Adams

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