It is hard to get a read on Cam Newton, especially with games like today. For three quarters he struggled, just like he has for the past four weeks. He threw an interception on the opening drive of both halves against the Falcons. This is the second straight game with multiple interceptions and also has an interception in each of the past seven games.
However, he deserves credit for the fact that in the fourth quarter he took the game over. He led the Panthers on two touchdown drives in the span of four minutes and made some excellent throws. He finished the game with 292 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart looked to be on their way to having one of their stronger games of the season. However, as the game went on the coaching staff relied heavily on Cam Newton and the passing attack. The Panthers only ran the ball 25 times compared to 37 pass attempts.
Williams and Stewart accounted for 17 of those carries but combined for 65 yards and averaged 3.8 yards per carry. The Falcons defense has struggled to stop the run and with how poorly Newton was playing, the fact the coaching staff didn’t rely on their top two backs is a little surprising.
The Panthers two rookies (Kelvin Benjamin and Philly Brown) helped lead the charge back with each catching a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Benjamin finished the day leading the Panthers with nine receptions for 109 yards and the one touchdown.
Brown is the one rookie that intrigued me more because he brings an element to this position that has been missing for most of the year. The Panthers have a lot of possession wide receivers but lack that deep threat that can get over the top of defenses, similar to what Brown did today on his touchdown.
If Brown is able to consistently do this, it would make this Panthers offense much more effective.
Greg Olsen had another quality game with five receptions for 61 yards but has not had a touchdown catch for five weeks now. Olsen started the year very strong in this category with five touchdowns in the first six weeks.
Olsen did have a heads up play at the end of the game when he took a lateral from Kelvin Benjamin and was able to get out of bounds with one second left. Even though it was going to be a long 63 yard field goal, without Olsen’s quick thinking the chance to steal the win would have never taken place.
After an awful performance on Monday night, the Panthers offensive line played much better giving up only two sacks and two QB hits. However this performance was against the worst passing rushing defense in the NFL with the Falcons only registering 11 sacks entering this game.
The problem with this group is the fact that they have not had a chance to have a starting five play regularly. This game was the sixth straight week that they had a new starting offensive line and to make matters worse, rookie Trai Turner was pulled after the first series and replaced with Chris Scott.
With the bye week coming up, the Panthers coaching staff has to find the best possible starting five and give them as much practice as possible before the Panthers next game.