Carolina – Three Performances of Note
Dominant Day on the Edge
The left-right edge rush combo of Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy was set quiet last week as neither managed a positive grade against Buffalo’s protection, but they revved up for Week 3 and more than made up for their week off.
While Hardy tuned-up Beatty, Johnson took to dismantling the rookie Pugh, beating him with an impressive and varied display of moves – Johnson logged pressures with speed around the outside edge, slashing inside efforts, and even a simple, overpowering bull rush. The 14 combined pressures the pair delivered set the tone for the day and pushed their season total to 28 — a number that has them sitting as the league’s No. 2 4-3 DE duo behind only Dallas’ tandem of Ware and Selvie (32).
Panther Ground Game
On a day where clock was in need of chewing, the Panthers salted things away with 46 runs and 194 yards via the run (30 for 128 in the second half) against a demoralized Giants defense. Of those yards, 103 came after contact and the Panthers put together 17 runs that resulted in first downs or touchdowns.
Cam Newton led the way, grade-wise, building his +1.4 run grade on seven attempts, five coming on option keepers and QB draws. Newton earned three of the team’s rushing first downs himself and tacked on a short touchdown in the middle of the third quarter. After leading quarterbacks in run grades in each of the past two seasons, this was Newton’s best-graded ground day so far in 2013 and he currently finds himself fourth in that category.
Possibly lost in the focus on Carolina’s front seven – that which is built upon star edge rushers and recent high-profile and high-performing rookies — their secondary was filled with unfamiliar faces on Sunday. Having lost nearly the entire starting unit to injuries, the Panthers were forced to piece together a group, shifting parts and inserting unknowns.
With Mike Mitchell moved to a deep safety role, two undrafted rookies seeing significant playing time, and Drayton Florence just added to the roster, it might have been reasonable to expect issues. Each member of the DB quintet (the four above plus Captain Munnerlyn), however, earned positive coverage grades and provided the backdrop for Carolina’s dominant defensive day.
- The two undrafted rookies in the Carolina defensive backfield, left corner Melvin White and safety Robert Lester, each brought home their first career interceptions.
- While Carolina’s defense notched 23 total pressures, the Giants managed just six.
- Panther kicker Graham Gano’s final kickoff of the day was his 15th of the year and the first that has not gone for a touchback.
PFF Game Ball
Tough to split them, but Charles Johnson edges out Greg Hardy and gets the game ball for his thorough thrashing of an overmatched rookie right tackle.