Panthers Lead Browns 10-3; Halftime Notes

The Carolina Panthers continue to beat teams with a run game and solid defense; jumping out to a 10-3 lead over Cleveland.'s Brandon Croce provides some notes and observations from the first half.

  • Cam Newton isn’t playing like he is worried about his back or that his back is bothering him in anyway. He has run the ball seven times for 25 yards and a rushing touchdown at the end of the first half. He has done a good job of protecting the ball with no turnovers and making good throws. He is 9 of 16 for 82 yards.
  • The MVP of the offense in the first half though may be Jonathan Stewart, who has 66 rushing yards and is averaging over five yards per carry. The Panthers running back is a big reason the offense has been so effective in the first half because when he is running on first and second down he is picking up big chunks of yards. This makes the distance on third down much more manageable and easier to convert.
  • The success of the run game has allowed the Panthers to control this game and control the time of possession. Carolina has held the ball for 21:25 out of a possible 30 minutes in the first half.
  • The Panthers defense is once again off to a great start, holding the Browns offense to only 61 total yards of offense. The run game has been non-existent for Cleveland with the longest run going for five yards. The defensive line has also done a good job of containing Johnny Manziel in the pocket and eliminating his scrambling ability. The Browns quarterback hurt his hamstring on their final drive and his return is questionable.
  • NFC South Update: Atlanta 13, New Orleans 7. The Panthers and Falcons are doing their parts to set up a Week 17 showdown for the NFC South division title.

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