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Joe Ovies

Penalty controversy aside, Panthers legit

Posted November 19, 2013

1. Buried underneath all the hot sports takes regarding controversial endings inside Bank of America Stadium was another statement game from the Carolina Panthers. In back-to-back weeks this squad got the best of the San Francisco 49ers in a defensive slobber-knocker on the road and topped the New England Patriots with a clock-melting touchdown drive on Monday Night Football.

Are you not entertained?

Pundits have spent the majority of the season moving the goalposts and setting new objectives for the Panthers.

After they destroyed the New York Giants, everyone chalked it up to beating a bad team. After Carolina reeled off three wins in a row, the football Illuminati shrugged their shoulders and pointed at the combined record of the teams they conquered. Even after going to San Francisco and besting Jim Harbaugh, the talking points centered on the depleted 49ers offense and what was up with Colin Kaepernick.

The same is happening after a win over New England. Never mind that Carolina's defense kept Tom Brady and a fully healthy Patriots offense in check. Don't focus on Cam Newton's continued maturation process. It won't be viewed as a signature victory for Ron Rivera, who weeks ago was dealing with reports that the front office was vetting possible coaching replacements.

The win will be tainted in the eyes of many thanks to the way it ended. And that's probably best for the Carolina Panthers as they can continue carrying a chip on their shoulder.  

2. Newton wasn't perfect against New England, but he outweighed any forced throw or bad sack with his ability to keep plays alive. He scrambled on third down three times against the Patriots and converted a first down each time. Newton dropped jaws when, according to ESPN Stats & Information, he eluded defenders and covered 75.8 yards on the ground for a 14-yard gain.

Then came the game-winning drive. Newton worked out of the shotgun to complete short passes and scramble when necessary. His 25-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. capped off excellent clock management from the Panthers coaching staff, leaving the Patriots with 59 seconds left in the game.

3. Now, about the officials picking up the flag and ruling there was no penalty on the final play of the game: Let's just admit the Panthers got away with it.

The official explanation from the guys in stripes was that the pass was uncatchable. How could it have been when Rob Gronkowski was busy telling Luke Kuechly that he didn't want to slow dance with him at prom? While the ball was dubbed uncatchable because it was slightly underthrown and intercepted four yards in front of Gronkowski, that doesn't mean he couldn't have made a move for it had Kuechly not hugged him in the end zone. 

“I’m not trying to sit here and make an excuse that he held me at the end of the game," Gronkowski told the Boston Herald.

We see what you did there, Gronk. But nobody outside of Boston wants to hear it. 

Besides, the angst would be just as loud had the pass interference call stood. Fans and pundits would be screaming that players should be allowed to mix it up in the end zone and that officials shouldn't determine a critical moment in the game. 

That's why I'm perfectly cool with just saying the Carolina Panthers got a break last night. The Patriots should be rather familiar with those by now.

4. The Carolina Panthers had a scary moment in the third quarter when defensive end Charles Johnson left the game with an apparent MCL sprain when New England tackle Marcus Cannon swept his legs after a block. While there was no flag thrown on the play, many expect Cannon to be hit with a fine from the NFL. 

From that point on the Panthers struggled to establish a pass rush on Brady. 

According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, Cannon found Johnson after the game and apologized for the leg whip.

5. There were no such apologies from Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, but he did have a special message for Aqib Talib after the game. 

20 Comments

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  • scousler Nov 20, 5:18 a.m.

    Karma sux - have we forgotten the big break the Pats got in the Super Bowl when one of the league's best kickers yolo-ed a kick-off out of bounds giving the Pats easy field position to kick the winning field goal?

    The refs made the right call - it was a pass thrown 8 yards short and Gronk could not have made the catch with no one there. Get over it Pat whiners - you got beat fair and square.

  • sckinton60 Nov 19, 7:51 p.m.

    So...Panthers get lucky against Pats with no interference call, Pats got lucky with illegal batting of a loose fumble called against Miami(15 yds, 1st down)...so Miami should win vs. Panthers on something altogether new the officials can come up with.

  • mac240 Nov 19, 7:22 p.m.

    When the Panthers were at their ususal worst the last few years..everybody wanted to hang Rivera... View More

    — Posted by Big Mike

    I've always been a Panthers fan, but Rivera's job was on the line because of conservative play calling, he finally loosened up and now you see the results of all that talent.

  • Leave it to Beaver Reruns Nov 19, 7:20 p.m.

    Someone listened to the DP Show this morning. Nice thievery of the slow dance reference, Ovies. Not at all surprised coming from you. Raekwon says hello shark biter.

    I also love how Joe and all his twitter friends retweet each other's stuff all day long. It's cute.

  • Road-wearier Nov 19, 5:21 p.m.

    If this had been reversed, ie the Panther on offense and the Pats on defense, there would not be one 'expert' saying this was a bad call. But since it went against The Golden Anointed One Brady, it's a bad call.

  • mac240 Nov 19, 5:19 p.m.

    In Foxborough the Pats get the call, in other words oh well!

  • ncstateforever Nov 19, 5:00 p.m.

    The Panthers are for real. You can bet no one wants to go down to Charlotte and play them.

  • 4tarheels Nov 19, 4:23 p.m.

    The Panthers ARE legit. I attribute it to a very good defense, and receivers who can finally catch a pass. Cam has been good and will continue to get better as he gains experience.

  • StunGunn Nov 19, 3:51 p.m.

    It' a shame that that flag/no flag is what's getting all the attention. What Panthers fans (should) realize is that they ARE for real. Early in the season, they lost to bad teams; later, they beat bad teams. Now, they're beating good teams.

    Cam is maturing and developing, the D is stout, and Shula is calling some good plays for the offense. The Panthers are playing TEAM ball, and they're playing well. Rivera's seat, once hotter than the surface of the sun, has cooled considerably, and deservedly so. I hope they handle wins with the same determination they handled losses, and keep up their effort.

  • Big Mike Nov 19, 2:38 p.m.

    When the Panthers were at their ususal worst the last few years..everybody wanted to hang Rivera and blame Newton..now that they are winning, why do people still continue to put the coach and team down? 7-3 and you're complaining? Real fans stick with them no matter what. Which are you? Pretend fans should be banned..

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