Carolina Panthers May Have Found Winning Formula in Running Game

Jimmy Grappone@cltsportshubCorrespondent INovember 28, 2011

DeAngelo Williams (34) runs for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts.
DeAngelo Williams (34) runs for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

For only the second time this season, the Carolina Panthers (3-8) ran the ball more times than they passed in Sunday's 27-19 victory over the Indianapolis Colts (0-11).

In both instances—the other game in which Carolina ran more often than they threw the ball came against the Washington Redskins (4-7)—the Panthers controlled the clock, gained 175+ yards on the ground and won the game.

Over 200 Yards on the Ground

The Panthers ran for a season-high 201 yards on 35 carries, and they dominated time of possession by holding the ball for more than 36 minutes against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Panthers have the sixth best rushing attack in the NFL this season, at 135.3 yards per game through Week 12, and a heavy dose of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton seems to be Carolina's formula for success. 

Against the Colts, Stewart, Williams and Newton each gained over 50 yards on the ground. 

Running Game Helps the Passing Game

Not coincidentally, Cam Newton's most efficient passing games this season have come in the only two games in which the Panthers ran more often than they passed.

Cam Newton, 20-of-27 passing for 207 yards, had his most efficient game since completing 18-of-23 for 256 yards in Carolina's 33-20 win against the Redskins.

Circumstances Dictate Play Calling

There have been, and will there will continue to be, games in which the Panthers fall behind by a couple of scores and need to rely more on the pass than the run in order to get back into the game.

However, running is the bread-and-butter of this Panthers' offense, and they can actually control the entire flow of the game when they are running the ball well.

In Sunday's game against the Colts, Carolina never trailed and coach Rob Chudzinski stuck to his original game plan to run the ball more than 30 times.

Knowing Your Strengths

When Carolina jumped out to an early 24-7 first-half lead over the Detroit Lions in Week 11, the Panthers did not rely on the running game quite enough, and they ended up losing 49-35.

Cam Newton tossed four interceptions and the Panthers' overmatched defense could not get off the field, except by allowing touchdowns.

Running the ball allows the Panthers to control the clock, control the line of scrimmage and to keep their struggling defense off the field.

If Carolina sticks to a similar game plan in its remaining five games, they may be able to chalk up a few more wins and build momentum heading into next season.


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