Chiefs vs. Panthers: Carolina's Biggest Winners and Losers from Week 13
It was an extremely emotional game, as both teams were still heartbroken due to the Jovan Belcher situation.
Each team's offense moved the ball efficiently, as the Panthers averaged 7.5 yards per play and the Chiefs averaged 5.3 yards per play.
Kansas City won this game because it dominated the time of possession battle, as it held the ball for 14 minutes and 29 seconds longer than the Panthers.
The results of this game will not affect the playoff picture because both teams lost any realistic chance at the postseason weeks ago. This game may affect April's draft order, as both teams are likely to pick within the first eight selections.
Winner: Steve Smith
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Steve Smith found the end zone for the second time this season against the Kansas City Chiefs, as the Carolina Panthers all-time leading receiver had a big game.
On the day, Smith caught five passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Cam Newton targeted Smith nine times, which was five more than any other Panther receiver.
Smith's performance is even more impressive when the the attention that he received from the Chiefs defense is taken into account. Kansas City had constant tabs on Smith, as it clearly was not concerned with Brandon LaFell and Louis Murphy.
At some point Smith will slow down, but I would not count on that point coming anytime in the near future.
Loser: Pass Defense
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Brady Quinn started at quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, which was welcomed news from the Carolina Panthers fanbase.
After the game, the positive feelings from Panthers fans surrounding Quinn's start disappeared, as the Notre Dame alumni had one of the best games of his NFL career.
Quinn completed 19 of his 23 passes, which equates to a 82 percent completion percentage. For a quarterback without proven NFL success to complete 82 percent of his passes is a major indictment on the Panthers' lackluster defense.
Quinn also threw two touchdowns and finished with an exceptional quarterback rating of 132.1.
Winner: Luke Kuechly
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Luke Kuechly continues to impress as a rookie, and he put together another big game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Kuechly finished the game with a sack and nine tackles, with three of those tackles resulting in a loss of yards.
On the season, Kuechly has amassed 114 tackles, which will keep him in the top five throughout the entire league in total tackles.
While the Panthers defense struggled to slow down the Chiefs offense, Kuechly was one of the few defenders that aided in that effort.
Carolina hit the jackpot with Kuechly, which is something that he continues to prove week after week.
Loser: The Coaching Staff
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In order for Ron Rivera and his coaching staff to avoid getting fired at season's end they needed to guide the team on a successful final push.
That push started last week against the lowly Philadelphia Eagles, as the Carolina Panthers triumphed on the road against one of the league's worst teams.
After the victory, the Panthers had another winnable game against the Kansas City Chiefs in which they were the favorite.
It appeared as if the stars were beginning to align themselves for Rivera, but then the Panthers lost to the league's only one-win team entering Week 13.
The Chiefs gashed the Panthers defense throughout the game, as Kansas City held the ball for 37 minutes and 13 seconds.
The Panthers lost to Brady Quinn, as they made the Notre Dame alumni look like a bona fide NFL starter.
This loss is just another nail in Rivera's coffin, as the Panthers have compiled an unacceptable record of 9-19 under his watch.
Winner: Cam Newton
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While Cam Newton failed to lead the Carolina Panthers on a game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, he did put up big numbers in Week 13.
By game's end, Newton had compiled 310 all-purpose yards, three passing touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 121.2.
Newton did throw a few erratic passes from inside the pocket, but that has been one of his calling cards this season. One thing that Newton must focus on this offseason is his accuracy on short and intermediate routes.
Cam completed 15 of his 27 pass attempts against the Kansas City Chiefs, which equates to a subpar 55 percent completion percentage.
Newton is a winner despite the loss and poor completion percentage because he did not turn the ball over and shouldered the majority of the offensive load.