Before the Panthers-Texans game yesterday, I predicted that the Panthers would win by a final score of 34-20. Two high-powered offenses going head-to-head, with playmakers on each defense that are capable of changing the outlook of a game.
The Panthers still won yesterday due to a very productive Christian McCaffrey, who totaled 179 scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown, and a solid defense that totaled six sacks, led by defensive end Mario Addison’s two, and an interception by former Duke University product Ross Cockrell on a trick play that saw Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins throw the ball. But the Panthers only managed to score 16 points, while holding the Texans to 10. I did not think the final score would be 16-10, I thought it would certainly be higher. Deshaun Watson, Hopkins, McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel, Carlos Hyde were just a few of the playmakers that appeared in this game.
One player I was high on coming into the game yesterday was Kyle Allen. While Allen did fumble the ball three times, he made some huge plays, most notably in the fourth quarter when he evaded a J.J. Watt sack. Allen shook off Watt, then found Jarius Wright for a huge first down. Allen would finish with a respectable stat line of 24 passes completed in 34 attempts for 232 yards.
Yesterday was what you could call a classic, grind-it-out win. Yes, the Panthers fumbled the ball three times, and stalled on offense like in Weeks One and Two, but their defense stepped up when called upon, limiting Watson and the high-powered offense to a second quarter field goal and a third quarter rushing touchdown (courtesy of Watson). Guys who had not played in a game this year, such as Bruce Irvin, made huge contributions (Irvin recorded a sack and two solo tackles). The high-powered trio of Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Kenny Stills were only limited to 88 yards (and no touchdowns) on the day.
In addition to the strong McCaffrey performance and defensive showing, the man known by Cam Newton as “Swole Tweeder,” better known by fans as Joey Slye, showed his power leg to the tune of three field goals, including a 55-yarder that broke a 10-10 tie. Had Slye not made his final two field goals, this game could have been tied 10-10 going into overtime. So, thank you again, Swole Tweeder!
Next week, the Panthers face their second consecutive AFC South opponent, as they return home to Bank of America Stadium to take on Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars. While I expect the Jags game to be even more of a defensive battle, I expect the Jags to score more, given that Minshew is developing into a good young quarterback, and Fournette is coming off of his best game of the season.
The Panthers will surely enjoy this win, and then get back to work in preparation for the “Litter Box.”