It has been a recurring storyline for the Carolina Panthers as the offense once again got off to a slow start. The Panthers only picked up one first down on their first three drives and quarterback Cam Newton saw his first four passes fall incomplete. However, the offense bounced back and put together back-to-back scoring drives.
This was due in large part to Cam Newton getting into a rhythm. He responded finishing the half 13 of 21 for 111 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He completed a deep pass to Ted Ginn Jr. to get the Panthers on the scoreboard. Tight end Greg Olsen has been much more involved in this game already targeted eight times and has four receptions for 33 yards.
One of the reasons the Panthers offense was able to get into a rhythm was because for the most part the offensive line has contained the Texans’ pass rush led by J.J. Watt. The team has regularly been double teaming the star defensive end but Mike Remmers has done an incredible job against him. Remmers has yet to give up a sack as the Panthers starting right tackle, a streak that dates back to last season.
The protection hasn’t been perfect as the Texans’ defensive line has done a good job of getting to Newton on a couple of throws and hitting his arm. It has caused a few inaccurate throws, and was one of the reasons Newton threw an interception at the end of the first half. The pass should have been caught by Kevin Norwood, but it slipped through his hands and right into the waiting arms of the Texans’ defensive back.
The Panthers defense knew they were going to have to step up today with middle linebacker Luke Kuechly ruled out with a concussion. Well they certainly have with the Texans only able to score a field goal and finished the half with 93 total yards.
One thing that has been surprising though is the fact that Kuechly’s replacement, A.J. Klein, has not seen the field much. The Panthers have been primarily playing with two linebackers with Thomas Davis and first-round rookie Shaq Thompson.
At the end of the first half, the Texans lost starting offensive tackle Jeff Adams to an injury. The team was already without their starting left tackle Duane Brown and this should create an opportunity for the Panthers’ pass rush to turn up the heat on Ryan Mallett. Defensive end Mario Addison already has two QB hits after registering two sacks last week. I expect the Panthers to get more pressure on the Texans’ quarterback in the second half.
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