The Carolina Panthers went into Thursday night’s game against the New York Giants with high hopes. They were riding high following a statement win over the New Orléans Saints. QB Cam Newton was in his second season and he was going to take the league by storm.
Going into the game expert after expert picked the Panthers to pull it out at home. The Giants were depleted, they can’t keep pace with the Carolina offense, or so they thought.
We sit here now, the morning after and the dust has settled on what was a dominant performance by the team in blue. Only, it wasn’t sky blue, it was New York Big Blue.
When the final whistle sounded the Giants had put the finishing touches on an imposing 36-7 victory.
The stage was set for Carolina to take the next step. They got the defending champs on a short week. They were at home. New York looked vulnerable against Tampa Bay. This is the time when Newton and Co. would soar to new heights, as it turned out they sunk to a new low. Eli Manning was a cool 27-35 for 288 yards and 1 touchdown. He had all day to throw as once again the Panthers pass rush was nonexistent. Relative no-names like RB Andre Brown and WR Ramses Barden went over 100 yards rushing and receiving respectively.
Cam Newton had arguably his worst game since joining the NFL a season ago. 16-30 242 yards and 3 bad interceptions overshadowed a meaningless rushing touchdown. The Giants were simply better in every aspect of the game. Joe Adams had an awful night returning kicks for Carolina, they could not get any semblance of a run game going and the defense was shredded yet again.
This Carolina team is going to be exciting to watch as long as they have Newton under center, but he simply does not have enough around him. Steve Smith is getting up in there in age and won’t be around forever, Greg Olsen is serviceable but is not an elite tight end and the offensive line needs work in the pass protection game. People seem to forget this team was only 6-10 last season. Newton overshadowed a lot of their failures with his amazing rookie campaign. Thursday night those failings were made brutally clear to the nation. Carolina still has a long way to go to become contender. The dejected look on Newton’s face after the game shows how much this one hurts. This was a chance for this franchise to get back on the national scene and they laid a rather large goose egg.
Newton will have his struggles, but the rest of the team must step up as well if this team is going to get back on track towards contending. However, for now at least, they must focus on getting back to the basics and doing them well. It may seem like a step back to most people, but maybe for this team, that will allow them to take leaps forward in the future.