For Carolina Panthers fans (like myself), the last four weeks have been pleasant. After an 0-2 start that saw the Panthers struggle to find rhythm on both sides of the ball, Kyle Allen has led the Panthers to four straight victories, Christian McCaffrey has ben playing the best football of his career, and the defense has been making big plays (no pun intended) when needed.
Yesterday, the Panthers beat the Buccaneers for their fourth straight win. Not only was it a rematch of the Week Two heartbreaker in Charlotte, it was one of the 2019 NFL Regular Season’s four games in London. Both teams were in different positions coming into this game, but as I had mentioned in my preview article, London provided a fun atmosphere surrounding this game.
How did the Panthers come out on top? It was a combination of multiple factors. Kyle Allen once again played a great game, going 20-32 with 227 yards and two touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey continued his campaign for the league’s MVP award, scoring two touchdowns of 57 yards from scrimmage. Joey Slye connected on three field goals, two of which were from greater than 45 yards. The defense played well, picking off Jameis Winston five times, and not allowing the Bucs to take a single lead on the day.
I was impressed with all of the above factors, but there was someone else that stood out to me most: Curtis Samuel, the third-year pro out of Ohio State University.
Up until yesterday, Samuel had been enjoying a respectable season through the first five games: 227 yards and one touchdown, which came in the Panthers’ first 2019 win against the Arizona Cardinals. Samuel is a guy that brings versatility to the Panthers offense: he is used on jet sweeps, kick and punt returns, or even as the wide receiver that he is listed as.
Yesterday, Samuel had his best game of the season, catching four passes for 70 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for eight yards (and another touchdown). While D.J. Moore is the number one guy in Carolina (and leads the Panthers in receiving yards), Samuel is clearly the number two receiver. When guys not named Christian McCaffrey play like Samuel did yesterday, it makes the Panthers even more dangerous. That was the biggest question for the Panthers after their 0-2 start: why can they not win games with all of the weapons they have?
I think that the Panthers have started to find a way to use all of their weapons. The Cats are churning out touchdowns from multiple players, and their defense is finally starting to gel. After a bye week next week, the Panthers will face their toughest test of the season so far, as they will travel to San Francisco to take on a surprising 5-0 49ers team.
Enjoy your bye week, Panthers. With that victory across the pond yesterday, the time off will be that much sweeter.