There’s been a lot of talk about the fact that carolina panthers superstar quarterback cam newton isn’t surrounded by many established offensive weapons, and that’s one of the main reasons newton has the love of mvp with his undefeated team at the end of October.
despite the less than stellar numbers, newton deserves to be an mvp candidate, because he is the heart and soul of a 6-0 team that would undoubtedly be closer to .500 without him. But in their 27-16 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night, the Panthers proved to a national audience that they are much more than Newton.
Reading: Are the carolina panthers undefeated
It was a quintessential team win for Carolina, with Newton winning despite completing just 14 passes and throwing three interceptions while rushing for just 20 yards.
It was by no means a horrible night for Newton, but the 26-year-old two-time pro bowler was no superman like he was last week in Seattle.
That wasn’t necessary because backs jonathan stewart and mike tolbert rushed for 141 yards on 27 carries, and wide receiver ted ginn had 102 yards (43 of which were rushing) on six touches. Ginn, tight end Greg Olsen and receivers Corey Brown and Devin Funchess had key catches for more than 20 yards, with Tolbert stepping up with a team-defining touchdown in which he refused to be tackled by a pack of Eagles. on the goal line in philadelphia.
and it wasn’t necessary because carolina’s defense limited philadelphia’s star-studded potent offense to just one touchdown and three field goals, committing only one significant error on a night that featured crisp tackling, constant pressure and first category coverage.
Linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly, who combined for 19 tackles, put up two of the best defensive performances of the 2015 season, while cornerback Josh Norman was again unbeatable for most of the night. He threw five sacks, three of which came from defensive tackle Kawann Short, and it was easy for Panthers fans to forget all about injured pro-caliber pass-rusher Charles Johnson and his injured teammates, Dwan Edwards and Shaq Thompson.
Did it help that the Eagles let a lot of passes go by? absolutely, but any time you can beat a quality opponent despite your quarterback throwing three interceptions (they’ve won back-to-back games now despite losing the turnover battle by a 5-1 margin in those matters ), you are doing something right.
newton isn’t exactly playing behind a star-studded offensive line, but that unnamed unit, which entering week 7 had been responsible for just seven hits on newton all season, according to pro football focus , was also stellar on Sunday. night, allowing just one sack and a handful of pressures against a defense that has developed a reputation for making big plays.
no johnson, no kelvin benjamin, and less than 100 percent kuechly, but it still worked, starting with stewart’s first 100-yard effort of the 2015 campaign.
“stewart played with a chip on his shoulder and made life very easy for the whole offense to keep going,” newton said after the game on nbc. “Tolbert played with passion today, especially how excited he was after his uncle passed away. And the offensive line, they make my job so easy. Philly [Brown] made plays, Ted [Ginn] made plays, [Jerricho] Cotchery made plays. It was a combined team win.”
with newton a bit off and philly getting more chances, the panthers converted just two-thirds all night, yet the eagles were only 7-for-18 at those spots. And aside from that key error, which resulted in a 63-yard touchdown run by Ryan Mathews, they limited DeMarco Murray, Mathews and Darren Sproles to just 108 combined rushing yards on 26 carries.
kuechly, who missed three games earlier this season with a concussion and had to wear a harness after sustaining a fourth-quarter shoulder injury, made four separate stops within a yard of the line. of hitting
and yet he wasn’t even carolina’s best defensive player on sunday night, because short had three sacks and a forced fumble, norman, who could be a pro by the end of this year, prevented a touchdown that He could change the game with a rare pass breakup late in the first half, and Davis had a team-high 11 tackles while helping make eight stops inside three yards of scrimmage.
newton remains the bread and butter of this team, the “thoroughbred” as general manager dave gettleman calls him. but this is the ultimate team game, and while it’s true that you can’t win without a quarterback anymore, the reality is that you’re just as useless if that’s all you have.
panthers no longer have to worry about any problems.
brad gagnon has covered the nfl report for bleacher since 2012.