Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA
The offense looked good and while the offensive line struggled a bit at times with the San Diego pass rush, they kept Newton upright most of the game. They allowed him time to find his receivers and for the running game to take hold.
DeAngelo Williams enjoyed the fruits of their labor as he accumulated 93 rushing yards and had 144 total yards on the day with a touchdown reception. Steve Smith continued his legacy in Carolina with six catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. He moved to over a 1,000 yards on the season making it the seventh time he has reach that total in his career.
Mike Tolbert made a lot of noise early by having his number called twice deep inside San Diego territory and scoring twice giving the Panthers an early 14-0 advantage. He finished the day with 64 total yards and had his biggest game as a Panther.
Final Grade: A+
4th Quarter Grade: A
As noted earlier, the offense is becoming more run oriented with the lead and doing their best to run out the clock. They were unable to much on their first possession of the fourth quarter but it shouldn't affect them too much in the long run.
Mike Tolbert is still having a great game picking up a huge gain on the ground and helping Carolina maintain possession in the final minutes of the game. Williams could reach 100 yards on the day. He is close and is having one of his best games of the season.
3rd Quarter Grade: A-
The first series for Carolina in the second half was headlined by Newton, Williams and Smith. Williams was able to get some big gains on the ground, while Newton found Smith twice. The second one resulting in a touchdown. Give credit to Smith for the moves he made on his first reception of the quarter which netted the Panthers a first down.
Carolina is building on their lead and showing no signs of slowing down. The Panthers lead 31-0 with 8:56 left to play in the third quarter.
The offense wasn't able to do much the second time around but they really don't have to with the score being 31-0 in their favor. Williams could possibly get to 100 yards rushing if the Panthers continue to pound the ball up the middle.
Williams didn't do the Panthers any favors by coughing up the football for the game's first turnover and he will need to have better ball control if he is to help his team close this one out. Because of the fumble, Carolina gets a slight mark down for the period.
2nd Quarter Grade: B+
While the Panthers haven't scored during the first possession of the second quarter, they have made up for it by controlling the clock. The longer they have the ball the more difficult it will be for San Diego to get back into this game. The line seems to be seeing more blitz packages from the Chargers defense but have done enough to protect Newton.
Carolina is not content sitting on the lead as they are trying to increase their lead before the half. Steve Smith had another catch using some fancy footwork to stay inbounds for the completion. An interesting note about Smith is that he has a reception in 89 consecutive games. Newton completed a beautiful pass to Greg Olsen to set up first and goal at the San Diego five yard line. While it would have been nice to get the touchdown, the Panthers settled for the field goal. The three points move Carolina ahead 24-0 seconds before the half.
Their grade would be higher but they probably should have scored a touchdown given where they were set up on first down. The only drawback was their lack of timeouts. However, it's been all Panthers in this one.
1st Quarter Grade: A+
Steve Smith has assisted his head coach in the psychological warfare aspect of the game by getting the Chargers to commit a personal foul following his first reception. Not only did it gain the Panthers additional yards but it was instrumental in setting the tempo early. Carolina drove down the field, converted on 4th and short and Mike Tolbert was able to score with a leaping effort for the game's first touchdown of the day.
Carolina has definitely picked up where they left off by once again scoring on their opening drive.
The Panthers are making the most of out of San Diego's miscues. They didn't waste any time move inside their own territory and Tolbert added a second score to make it a 14-0 game. The former Charger is making quite an impression on his return trip to San Diego with two scores in the first quarter. The offense is doing quite well on the ground with Newton, Williams and Tolbert making a difference with the running attack.
A trick play that saw Steve Smith pick up a lot of yards on the ground and lucky tip that allowed DeAngelo Williams to catch a Newton pass for a touchdown have the Panthers up big, 21-0. Carolina hasn't been this dominant in the opening quarter all year long and could serve as a sign for things to come the rest of the way.
This unit looked very impressive last week against the Falcons. Not only did they maintain a dominant time of possession over Atlanta, they scored on their first five possessions, building a 16-0 lead in the process.
Steve Smith is enjoying the Newton era given the fact he is set to have another 1,000-yard receiving campaign, and tight end Greg Olsen has been steady and well worth the trade that was made for him prior to the start of last season.
The interesting aspects of the offense to look at on Sunday will be the offensive line, which was instrumental in allowing Newton to have the time to find his receivers; and the running game, which hasn't been great this season but has shown signs of getting better. Both will be tested against San Diego's rush defense, which has been stingy on opposing run games. It is ranked fourth in the league at stopping the run.
How well this unit executes and maintains control of the ball will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game. Carolina's offense has improved over the past few weeks and it's looking for much of the same this Sunday.