Final Score: New England 20, Carolina 24
|Position Unit||First-Half Grade||Final Grade|
vs. Patriots Week 11
Game Analysis for Carolina
Pass Offense: In what quickly developed into a back-and-forth offensive battle, quarterback Cam Newton managed to hold his own against his New England counterpart.
Newton finished the game 19-of-28 for 209 yards and three touchdowns. More importantly, he put his team in position to make the game’s final score.
Run Offense: The Panthers produced some first-half yardage on the ground, but the run game was not nearly as effective after the Patriots made halftime adjustments.
Despite boasting a supremely talented backfield, Carolina’s leading rusher in this game was its quarterback. Newton finished the game with 62 yards on seven carries, while Mike Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams combined for 41 yards.
Pass Defense: The Panthers allowed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to produce yards but few points in the first half. Things were different in the second.
Brady finished the game 29-of-40 for 296 yards and a touchdown. However, he was intercepted in the end zone on the game’s final play, which preserved the Panthers' lead.
Run Defense: After defending the run well in the first half, the Panthers were battered by the New England ground game after the break.
In all, the Patriots produced 107 yards on the ground, with LeGarrette Blount’s 49 yards leading the team.
Special Teams: Overall, it was an average night for the Carolina special teams unit.
The lone mistake came in the fourth quarter, when punter Brad Nortman’s kick went just 36 yards and was returned to the Carolina 39 by Danny Amendola. The Patriots would take the lead with a field goal on the next drive.
Coaching: Carolina’s game plan for New England was fairly simple. The team kept the Patriots offense off the field as much as possible with a calculated and methodical offensive attack.
By utilizing long drives, the Panthers prevented the Patriots from having an excess of possessions and from having adequate time to mount an effective late comeback.
First-Half Analysis for Carolina
Pass Offense: Quarterback Cam Newton continues to make strides as an NFL passer. He was decisive, accurate and extremely poised for the majority of the first half.
Newton finished the half 7-of-12 for 97 yards and the game’s only touchdown.
Run Offense: The rushing attack of the Carolina Panthers is often so difficult to contain because the team utilizes a variety of looks and numerous ball-carriers.
Including Newton, four different Panthers ran the ball in the first half. In all, the Panthers produced 49 yards rushing in the first half.
Pass Defense: Trying to limit Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is not the easiest task. However, the Panthers did a respectable job in the first half by bringing pressure and making him uncomfortable in the pocket.
While Brady did complete 14 of 17 pass attempts for 123 yards, he was sacked twice and did not reach the end zone.
Run Defense: New England’s ground game was limited in the first half thanks to a stingy Carolina run defense.
New England managed 47 yards rushing in the first half but did not break a run longer than 13 yards and never came close to the goal line.
The Panthers also forced a fumble by running back Stevan Ridley with the Patriots in scoring position.
Special Teams: The Panthers special teams unit didn’t make any major mistakes in the first half, nor did it make any game-changing plays. Of course, the unit didn’t make a lot of plays in general in the first two quarters.
Brad Nortman punted just once for 50 yards, while kicker Graham Gano made his only field-goal attempt from 43 yards. Ted Ginn’s only kick return went for just 15 yards.
Coaching: Head coach Ron Rivera seems to have found a winning formula in Carolina. With a calculated, controlled offense and a stout, aggressive defense, the team has kept the ball out of the hands of Brady and Co. as much as possible.
This is the way most teams would likely approach the Patriots. However, the Panthers are one of the few teams with the ability to execute the game plan.