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I can safely say being on the sidelines in Tampa Bay this season was infinitely better than last season. When I arrived Cam was warming up under the watchful eye of Mike Shula. Shula still makes a point to keep tabs on Newton and doesn't seem to have given up the QB coach role completely. This was a homecoming for sorts for Shula, an important game for him. Thomas Davis jogged onto the field and looked as serious as, well, he is every game. Davis is all business all day every day. There were a few ladies waiting for the game to begin. Turns out they would be the only think in red and pewter worth taking pictures of all night long... Brandon Lafell seemed focused during introductions. I guess it worked, it wasn't long before he had a reception. Steve Smith soon followed, introducing a defender with his knee in the process. Oh hey a cheerleader... Anyways, the Panthers pressured Glennon often and were the difference in the game. Another Cheerleader... Cam Newton had a great night. Any time your QB gets 2 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdown, you probably won the game. First Downs Panthers! One lucky Auburn fan had a once in a lifetime moment. Schiano looked fairly calm for most of the game, and often times like he was oblivious to the fiery seat he is sitting on. Deangelo Williams and Mike Tolbert both had at least 5 yards per carry, and each had a touchdown. A very productive night for the Panthers running back duo. I know Cam was excited about it... When Tolbert caught his touchdown, he immediately ran for the "Touchdown Mike" banner on the wall of the endzone. Pretty hilarious. I guess he has a new nickname. Overall, it was a great night to be a Panthers fan. For the first night in years we have a team with a winning record to cheer for. Bring on the Falcons. Click here to view the article
Many fans are ready to start celebrating the Panthers having their first winning record since Jake Delhomme was the starting quarterback. Veteran Panthers fans know better. The Panthers are on the road against a division rival in prime time during a short week. Everyone on that field is a paid professional football player and the creme of the NCAA crop. The Panthers could lose this game. Here are the key points on defense to make sure that does not happen. - Force rookie mistakes. So far this season Bucs rookie QB Mike Glennon has actually looked pretty decent. Against the Falcons last Sunday, he had a 90.7 passer rating and completed 59% of his passes. Not bad for a rookie forced into a starting position. Glennon's passer rating has improved every week. Clearly he is learning. The Panthers defense will attempt to confuse Glennon with disguised coverages and blitzes. These tricks probably would not work against Drew Brees, but against Glennon could yield great results. I never thought Brad Johnson would lose the title of Bucs QB with the longest neck. - Don't relax on run stuffing. Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin is most likely out for this game, even though they are playing coy about confirming it (not a bad strategy in a short week and fewer injury reports). Still, the Panthers should not overlook the Bucs rushing attack. We have seen long and sustained drives given up by the Panthers defense when they lose focus. It is up to Sean McDermott to keep his unit hungry and unwilling to allow a single yard on the ground. Backup RB Mike James has looked average at best, the Panthers should be able to shut him down. The game Thursday night has all the makings of a trap game. Although I do feel the Panthers will win this game, I am not convinced it will be the blow out many are predicting. Click here to view the article