Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY

Carolina Panthers Take a 31-14 Lead Into Halftime Against the Washington Redskins

After the Redskins kept the game close with two quick touchdowns, the Carolina Panthers jumped out to a 31-14 lead at halftime. These are the notes from the first half of today's game.

  • The Carolina Panthers had fallen victim to big plays, one time while on defense and one time on special teams, which allowed the Redskins to keep it close in the first quarter. On the second play after the Panthers first touchdown, Kirk Cousins was able to connect on wide receiver DeSean Jackson for a 56-yard touchdown pass. The play happened as a result of blown coverage by Colin Jones, who has had to step in as the team's nickel this week. The Redskins second touchdown came on a 99-yard kickoff return by Andre Roberts thanks to a breakdown by the coverage team. There was almost a third touchdown by the Redskins defense, when Chris Culliver hit Greg Olsen and popped the ball out and returned for a score. However, this play was negated due to an unnecessary roughness penalty on Culliver.

  • For the second week in a row, the Panthers offensive line has struggled to protect Newton who was sacked twice in the first half after being sacked five times last week. Both the Redskins and Titans run 3-4 defenses and the offensive line could struggle protecting against this formation. The weak link in the line today seems to be the left side of this offensive line and in particular Amini Silatolu, who is filling in for the injured Andrew Norwell. On the first sack by Newton, Silatolu was beaten easily by Jason Hatcher, who forced Newton to scramble and run right into another Redskins' defender.

  • Entering this game, the thought process was the Panthers would lean heavily on the run game because the Redskins struggle to stop the run (30th in the NFL) and much better against the pass (12th in the NFL). Well Cam Newton has had no problem throwing the ball completing 16 of 24 passes for 187 yards and four touchdowns. Newton has done a good job of getting the ball to his backs in space as Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart catching touchdown passes in the first half. What is even more impressive is the fact that he has thrown touchdown passes to four different players. This is also the first time in Newton's career that he has thrown four touchdowns in an NFL game, let alone a half.

  • Even though the Redskins have hit big plays, the Panthers' defense has forced three turnovers that has helped them build a lead. Safety Kurt Coleman had an interception in the first quarter, his fourth of the season, and he is now tied for the team lead with Josh Norman. Then in the second quarter, Luke Kuechly forced a fumble on Matt Jones that the Panthers turned into another touchdown and gave them a 14-point lead. Then at the end of the first half, Kony Ealy earns his fourth sack in four games and third forced fumble in four games, which the offense turned into a field goal as time expired.

  • The one thing worth watching in the second half is how this team plays with the lead in the second half. Earlier this year, the Panthers have let big leads slip away from them in games against the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts and it will be interesting worth watching if this defense can keep up the intensity in the second half.

Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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