During the Panthers’ win streak, the talk was about the level of competition they were playing. The Panthers never let that bother them as they went out and continued to win games. You can’t control who is placed on your schedule, but you do control how you play your schedule and the Panthers have played their schedule like champs.
Cam Newton (16-of-32, 169 yards and one interception) came into the game playing the best ball of his career over the last four games. Newton is blossoming into one of the best quarterbacks in the league this season while leading his team to within a game of first place in the NFC South. The rushing attack produced the game’s only touchdown when DeAngelo Williams ran it in from 27 yards right before halftime.
Colin Kaepernick (11-of-22, 91 yards and one interception) could not generate any offense for the 49ers against the third-ranked Panthers defense. Kaepernick was sacked six times and hit countless others as he was running for his life the whole game. Frank Gore (16 carries, 82 yards) played well and was the 49ers only means of offense on a day when the passing game was nonexistent.
The return of Mario Manningham did nothing to bolster their passing attack as the young Panthers corners proved they have matured during the course of their winning streak.
Luke Kuechly (11 tackles, one sack) has continued his pursuit for Defensive Player of the Year with another stellar performance. Coming into the contest today, the Panthers’ defensive ranking was in question due to the level of the competition they have faced.
If any questions still linger, please feel free to ask the 49ers’ offense where the Panthers’ defense stand as a unit. The boys from Carolina did not disappoint, shutting down the 49ers’ offense and holding them to only 151 total yards.
The critics can question Newton’s accuracy, his receivers’ inability to hang on to the football and the decisions of their young coaching staff. The one thing you cannot question is their toughness, determination and their title as one of the best teams in the NFC.