Along the Sidelines - Patriots Edition
In what became one of the most exciting and inspiring game in years the Panthers ultimately defeated the New England Patriots,
The night began with fireworks during the national anthem. The entire evening was a dedication to the military and their families.
Earlier in the week I predicted Steve Smith, despite being covered by Talib, would make an impact in this game. Almost immediately 89 began to remind Talib why Smith is known as one of the toughest players in the game.
Talib, while helpless to stop Steve Smith resorted to trying to twist his ankle after the play. The result was a Patriots penalty which energized the crowd more than in recent memory.
In fact, the Patriots played the dirtiest football I have ever witnessed at Bank of America Stadium. After each play they were sure to get in extra kicks and hits.
The Panthers, however, play between the whistles and sometimes even offer a helping hand to the opposition once the play is over.
Cam Newton had, in my opinion, one of the best games of his career. Without his elusive running ability and sure handed passing, the Panthers would not have been in this game.
However, the thing that I liked most about Cam last night was his presence and leadership. Each week, Cam is getting more comfortable in his role as a leader on this team. Last night, he led a clutch game winning touchdown against a solid team.
Brandon Lafell doesn't seem to get much credit from the media, but this season he has turned out to be a legitimate threat in this league.
No one is happier about the emergence of 2nd and 3rd receiving threats more than Steve Smith, who understands while he may not be getting the number of catches the team is getting the wins. After the Tedd Ginn game winning touchdown Steve was sure to celebrate with Ginn. It almost looked like a passing of the torch...
Thomas Davis had a monster night. It would have been difficult to photograph a defensive play without him in the frame.
Luke Kuechly was in a chess match with Tom Brady all evening. For a second year player to go toe to toe with one of the greatest QB's of all time speaks volumes to Luke's ability before and after the snap.
During the last Patriots touchdown, you could feel the energy collectively let out of the stadium. Immediately there were concerns the game may be lost. How ever, Cam Newton was having none of that.
And put together a solid scoring drive.
Once the defense took the field for the last time the game was within reach. The Panthers defense harassed Tom Brady with the most pressure he had seen all night long,
In the end, Robert Lester intercepted a ball as Tom Brady cried foul.
After the game, Bill Bellichick was man enough to shake the hand of Ron Rivera...
but Tom Brady was no where to be found. In a completely classless move, Brady headed for the tunnels without shaking hands with Cam Newton.
But you know what? Cam wasn't even mad.
And even did a victory lap, administering high fives to his fans who stayed until the very end.
What a great night to be a Panthers fan.