The Carolina Panthers played a fantastic away game against the struggling Minnesota Vikings. It isn’t easy for an opponent to beat the Vikings at Mall of America Field, but the Panthers entered the game with a solid game plan and silenced the crowd almost immediately.
The Panthers offense and defense played a great game. The offensive line was able to give quarterback Cam Newton enough time in the pocket to find his receivers or give him space to run through and pick up positive yards. The wide receivers did a much better job catching the ball and extending the play with their speed. Last week they struggled with a few dropped balls that ultimately cost them some scores, however, this week they stepped up and were able to make big plays. Newton was almost perfect in the game connecting on 20 out of 26 attempts. He also threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns along with 30 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.
The player who deserves recognition for a breakout performance today is Mike Tolbert. He doesn’t get much attention for his work on the field, but this week he was the difference maker. He rushed for 27 yards with one touchdown and caught two passes for 20 yards and another touchdown. Tolbert has an amazing ability to get the ball into the end zone from red zone. He is the player the Panthers bring in for short yardage because of his size. He is 5-foot-9 and 245 pounds with excellent speed and the power of a freight train. He is a very difficult player to take down.
Not only was he able to punch the ball in for two scores, but he was also a key factor on many other plays. Twice the Panthers were faced with a fourth and short situation, and both times they chose to run the ball with Tolbert. He was successful both times. On top of that he was excellent in the blocking schemes and was able to help pick up the blitz. Tolbert stepped up and was a key factor in the outcome of the game. The Panthers really found a good spot for Tolbert and know how to use his skills to their advantage. He is a great football player with great touchdown dance moves. Although this was a team win, Tolbert deserves big recognition for the role he played in this week’s win.