Offensive Line Struggled to Protect Cam Newton
The Carolina Panthers' offensive line has played excellent over the first half of the season and is one of the reasons Cam Newton has played as well as he has. He generally has been given plenty of time in the pocket to let the play develop and make the throw or tuck it and run with it. Newton was the ninth least sacked quarterback entering Week 10 and was sacked a total of 14 times through eight games.
Well on Sunday, Newton wasn't afforded that same kind of protection as we hit sacked five times, which is a season high for sacks allowed for the Panthers. The Titans did a good job of bringing pressure from the second and third level of their defense and the Panthers' front five struggled to pick up this pressure.
The offense was missing starting left guard Andrew Norwell for this game and his return will help but it won't correct all the issues. The offensive line should be able to bounce back next week facing a Washington Redskins' defense that only has 13 sacks on the season and is near the bottom of the league.
Defense Tightens Up in Second Half
One of the biggest positives from this game was how the Panthers' defense tightened up in the second half and contained the Titans defense. The past couple of weeks, the defense has struggled to put games away as the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers have combined for 32 points against this defense in the fourth quarter.
This week, the Panthers didn't really play with a big lead at any point as they went into halftime with a four point lead and only lead by seven after three quarters. However, the defense played very well in the second half and limited the Titans to only three first downs, eight rushing yards and 76 total yards over the final two quarters.
More importantly than that, the Panthers' didn't allow any points in the second half.
Kony Ealy Keeps His Streak Alive
For the second time in his career, Kony Ealy has registered a sack in three straight games. At the end of the regular season last year, Ealy had a sack in the final three games and entering today he had a sack in each of the past two games. Ealy's sack on Marcus Mariota came on the first play of the Titans first drive in the fourth quarter. This was the only sack on Mariota today.
Jonathan Stewart Keeps His Streak Alive As Well
On Sunday, Jonathan Stewart carried the ball 22 times and this is now the fifth consecutive week, he has carried the ball at least 20 times. Entering Week 10, Stewart was fourth in the NFL in rushing attempts with 147 and averaged 18.4 carries per game. He is now on pace to carry the ball 300 times in the regular season, which is 79 more times than his career high of 221 in 2009.
When the Panthers released DeAngelo Williams in the offseason the thought was that Stewart would become the featured back for this offense. However, it would have been hard to predict this type of workload for the running back as he has battled injuries on and off for a majority of his career.
It is going to be interesting to see if this trend will continue or as the Panthers get closer to the end of the season, they dial Stewart's workload back to keep him fresh for the postseason.