The Panthers trailed by two scores in the third quarter, and they trailed by two scores in the fourth quarter. And yet, they came back to stun the Seahawks, 27-23, in Seattle on Sunday, this after a pair of 80-yard touchdown drives in the final minutes.
It was unbelievable.
“I was pretty surprised by that,” Charlotte Observer Panthers beat writer Jonathan Jones said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I was pretty surprised by the first one, but they moved the ball down pretty well. And then the second one, they get the ball back with about 2:30 (to go) and I’m thinking, ‘Not again with these Seahawks.’ They had blown three fourth-quarter leads this year – really four if you include the Monday Night game with the Lions’ controversial call – and I thought to myself, ‘It can’t be five. Not this team here with this defense.’”
As it turns out, it could be – and it was. The Panthers went 80 yards in eight plays in less than two minutes, as Cam Newton found Greg Olsen for the game-winning 26-yard score.
“They just start moving right down the field on them,” Jones said. “Cam really takes what the defense gives him. He’s getting his progressions really well, hitting his first reads and then the 26-yard touchdown pass to Olsen, which was basically the exact same play that they got down to the 1 on on the previous 80-yard drive. So look, it says a lot about Seattle and their defense obviously. I know a lot of people around the nation are talking about that. But I’ve been covering this team for four years, and this was the biggest statement game – and certainly the biggest statement quarter – of the Cam Newton era.”
Newton was 12-of-15 for 162 yards in the fourth quarter and threw for 269 overall. He also ran for 30 yards and a touchdown, ultimately running off the field after the win with his tongue hanging out.
“Cam is going to have fun playing quarterback,” Jones said. “That’s something he’s told me for several years now. He’s not going to play the game like he’s down, he’s not going to play the game like he’s old. He wants to be young and he wants to have fun doing it. So it’s manifesting itself and it’s happening with this team being 5-0 for the second time in franchise history and the first time since that 2003 season when they went to the Super Bowl. Yeah, he’s having fun for sure.”
The Panthers entered the weekend 4-0, but their wins had come against Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans and Tampa Bay.
“They needed a big win to let everybody know this team is for real,” Jones said. “This is a pivot game both for the Seahawks and the Panthers, and the fact that they went up there and did it in a place where Russell Wilson has only lost twice in his NFL career, that was pretty impressive. Still, it’s funny. The Panthers still have not beaten a team with a winning record, but if you beat the two-time conference champions in their place, that’ll count for something.”
The Panthers (5-0) host the Eagles (3-3) this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET in a matchup of NFC division leaders.