Overall - A
Aside from surrendering the late touchdown, their really isn't too much negative to say about the defense. Both Johnson and Hardy played the way they were expected to and were in RGIII's face practically all game.
The linebackers and secondary brought an intense and physical style of play with them that set the tone for the game defensively. It shouldn't surprise anyone if the Washington players wake up a little sore tomorrow morning.
The only drawback to take away from today's game were the the two personal fouls but in the end, they really didn't matter.
4th Quarter - A
There is no question the defense came to play. They have been playing inspired football all day and have really gone after RGIII in this quarter. Carolina wants this win bad and if the defense keeps doing what they are doing, they should be able to secure a victory.
Carolina is not making things easy for Griffin III or his teammates. Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson have made things especially tough as Griffin III has been sacked four times in this game. This is a big stop for the Panthers defense as it allows the offense to milk more time off the clock and put the game further out of reach for Washington.
Three missed interceptions is tough to swallow but luckily the Panthers are leading so it really is a non-factor. Though the miss by Josh Norman is really tough because had he caught it, the game is essentially over. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to keep the Redskins out of the end zone and find themselves with a one possession lead with 1:28 left in the game.
The Panthers defense showed up and didn't give the Redskins much of anything on the final drive of the game. They locked down the open field and were able to secure a win.
3rd Quarter - B-
The defense looked a little like a bend but don't break unit and ultimately stopped the Redskins following a challenge won by Ron Rivera. The challenge kept Washington at third down and the defensive front was able to get into the backfield and sack Griffin III bringing up fourth down and a punting situation.
Carolina brought the heat late in their second defensive series and made the plays when it mattered most deep in their own territory. Greg Hardy showed awesome strength by literally throwing his man to the ground in his pursuit to get to the quarterback. Washington had made it a habit of going for it on fourth down deep in Carolina territory but decided to play it safe and go for the easy three making the score 14-6 Panthers.
Giving up a lot of yards on the ground? Not a problem for the Panthers since they seem to find a way to get into the Redskins backfield and harass RGIII. Entering the final quarter, they have the Skins at third down.
2nd Quarter - A-
Carolina seems to be taking a step back defensively, giving up yards on the ground at an alarming rate. Much like the first quarter, they are shooting themselves in the foot as another personal foul has kept the Washington drive alive. Credit the Panthers for laying the lumber on the Redskins, as it has been a very physical game for the defense.
It doesn't bode too well to allow a fourth down conversion inside your own territory but that is what the Panthers did, allowing the Redskins to maintain possession. This happened not once but twice; though the second one was 4th and inches.
The third time is the charm! Another fourth down on the two yard line and the Panthers defense held firm. The defense made a statement keeping RGIII at bay and out of the end zone to maintain their slim lead.
The Carolina defense did not allow the Redskins to do anything on their last possession of the half and have been instrumental in keeping their team out in front. It all depends on how they perform in the second half and whether or not they leave FedEx Field with a win.
1st Quarter - B+
The Panthers got after RGIII early and what looked to be a three and out, turned into a personal foul penalty that allowed the Redskins to continue their opening drive. The line was able to get pressure on Griffin III early but Greg Hardy was a little too aggressive and drew a penalty for roughing the passer.
Field position looks to play a factor in how the Panthers will determine their defensive strategy. They applied constant pressure when they had Washington pinned deep, but when RGIII had room to move, Carolina was forced to cover more ground and not allow him to get free in open space.
Fortunately, the opening drive for Washington only netted them three points and the Carolina defense looks to keep their team in the game.
Last week the defense provided a heavy pass rush against Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler but couldn't get to him in the second half. Look for a consistent rush and spy from the Panthers against the mobile Griffin III.
The defense will be without Jon Beason and Chris Gamble but have done very well without them the past two games. Rookie Luke Kuechly has played admirably at middle linebacker, and Captain Munnerlyn has done a good job in place of the injured Gamble.
This is a unit that has steadily improved over the last few weeks, and it would be nice to see Carolina get a win to reflect that improvement.