Bridgewater had another solid game for the Panthers yesterday. He was 36-of-49 for 310 yards passing, had 19 yards on two carries and produced three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) with zero turnovers. He was only sacked twice and he didn’t make a lot of mistakes. The main reason he’s included this week, however, is because of one play on fourth-and-14 where he took off on a 15-yard run and sacrificed himself to pick up a first down. You don’t see many quarterbacks willing to do that, and Teddy won me over completely after that play. Some folks may still need to see more from him, but I’m no longer a part of that group. Win or lose, Teddy B is my quarterback now. Teddy Played with the heart of a champion.
The Panthers got a huge boost with the Return of the Mack (sorry for putting the song in your head). McCaffrey totaled 151 yards from scrimmage (69 rushing, 82 receiving) and two touchdowns. The offense looked much better with him on the field (which is normally what happens when you have your best player out there) and he looked like he didn’t miss a beat despite being out since Week 2 with a high ankle sprain. He didn’t waste any time finding the end zone either since he scored on the team’s opening drive (on fourth-and-3 from the KC 9-yard line, no less). I could go on and on about what C-Mac brings to this team, but you already know, so I’ll just sum it up and say that I’m glad he’s back out there. McCaffery Played with the heart of a champion.
Samuel had another outstanding game where he hauled in nine catches (on nine targets) for 105 yards, including an amazing catch for a huge 28-yard gain. He also picked up 13 yards on three carries. Oh, and he also scored a touchdown in the second quarter. The Panthers are going to have a tough decision to make on what to do with Samuel after the season is over.
Franklin had a bit of a coming out party yesterday. He was tied for the team lead in tackles (seven total, five solo) and added a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. He made one critical communication error that led to a touchdown, but otherwise he played well given the circumstances.
The Panthers had no business losing this game by two points. The Chiefs are more than two points better than the Panthers. Hell, they’re arguably the best team in the league, and they’re the defending Super Bowl champs.
Matt Rhule went into this game as an underdog and threw everything he had at Andy Reid. The Panthers went for it on fourth-and-3 from the Chiefs 9-yard line instead of kicking the field goal because Rhule knew that taking three points won’t win against the Chiefs. The result of that play was a Christian McCaffrey 9-yard touchdown reception and a 7-0 lead.
The Panthers faked a punt on fourth-and-7 from their own 45 yard line. The result of that play was a 28-yard pass from Joseph Charlton to Brandon Zylstra for a first down that eventually led to a Curtis Samuel 14-yard touchdown reception and a 14-3 lead.
The Panthers went for it on fourth-and-14 from their own 45-yard line while down two points with 13:09 left in the fourth quarter. Teddy Bridgewater 15-yard run to pick up a critical first down.
Everyone knows that the Panthers never would have done those things under John Fox or Ron Rivera, and everyone knows that a John Fox or Ron Rivera Panthers team would probably have lost that game by at least 24 points, if not more. But this team is different. Matt Rhule is bringing another dimension to Carolina, and it’s one that we’ve needed for far too long: He’s bringing a mindset of ‘screw it, let’s see what happens’ and I for one couldn’t be happier that we’re approaching games this way. The Panthers showed the heart of a champion.