Cam Newton Stays Composed
This game had a similar feel to the Carolina Panthers playoff lose to the Seattle Seahawks from a season ago. Both games saw Cam Newton throwing two interceptions in the first half however this year, the Panthers' quarterback stayed composed and led this team back to a victory. This was the first victory ever for the Carolina Panthers in Seattle and ended a five game losing streak to the organization.
Newton finished with 269 passing yards, 30 rushing yards with a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown to go along with the two interceptions mentioned above. It was great to see Newton stay composed after the poor start when he went 4 of 12 for only 46 passing yards in the first half.
During the offseason, there was questions about whether or not Newton was worth the contract extension that he received. The knock on him was always that Newton couldn't win the big games. This game showed just how good he can be as he was able to bounce back from a slow start and play some of the best football of his career against an excellent defense.
Jonathan Stewart: Not Flashy But Effective
There was nothing exciting about Jonathan Stewart's performance against the the Seahawks but he had his best game of the season. The Panthers came in with a game plan that they wanted to grind this game out on the ground and Stewart played a major role in this. He finished the game with 78 rushing yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns and caught one pass for eight yards.
This was his highest output on the ground this season but he had to grind it out going against a Seahawks run defense that ranked seventh in the NFL with an average yards against of 92.6 yards. The longest run for the Panthers' running back was only 11 yards and it was the only run by any Panthers' player that went for more than 10 yards.
The Panthers have struggled establishing the run and against the Seahawks they decided to throw in a few more wrinkles which was effective enough to spread the defense. Early in this game, the Panthers called two sweeps for Philly Brown and this helped open up some of the read option the Panthers' ran later in the game.
While, Stewart may not be able to carry it 20 times a game, it was good to see the Panthers stay with this part of their offense and have some success with it.
Welcome Back Luke!
The Panthers welcomed back their star middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and his return could not have come at a better time. The Panthers' linebacker suffered a concussion at the end of the first half of Week 1 and missed the next three weeks as he recovered from the head injury.
Now while this is not a knock on A.J. Klein, who filled in for Kuechly, this defense looks special with number 59 at middle linebacker. He finished the game with 14 tackles but his value to this defense goes far past the stat line. During the first half, the Seahawks and Panthers were involved in a shoving match after a play but that seemed to end quickly and it was Kuechly that tried to keep this group focused on the task at hand.
This is the type of leadership that can't be duplicated and having Kuechly back will only make a Top 10 defense that much stronger.