35-10. I’m not going to lie, winning feels good! It’s actually a pleasure to rehash four quarters of football when you can rest easy that the outcome is good… very, very good.
If you are not a Panthers fan (or a Vikings fan for that matter), Sunday’s kickoff would have arrived with very little fanfare: two 1-3 teams squaring it up under the roof in Minneapolis. Heading into the weekend, we followed the tragic events of the death of one of Adrian Peterson’s children. No doubt, the entire Viking’s franchise was feeling the weight of this event. But Peterson and the team showed up to tackle the task at hand. Each team was feeling the pressure to put a W up on the board.
More importantly for Panther fans, Cam Newton showed up. He attacked in the first quarter with a 15 play drive that – lo and behold – resulted in 7 on the scoreboard! Cam, I’m sorry that I might have muttered something about posting only 3 right before Steve Smith brought it in for the TD. (What? I’m a Panthers fan! Watching a long drive result in a field goal is something we do. A lot.)
But after another great drive, and another 7 points (Mike Tolbert), it was pretty obvious that Cam was in his zone. I began to feel something peculiar. What was that? Enthusiasm? Confidence? I like it!
The defense was doing their job, holding Peterson to only 83 yards. Two interceptions by Mike Mitchell made us think that perhaps Matt Cassel was aiming for him. And when both of those interceptions resulted in touchdowns, well, it almost became easy to forgive the transgressions of last week’s feeble attempt against the Cards.
35-10! A win, bringing us to 2-3 for the season. I can’t overlook the fact that both wins came against franchises who are struggling (Giants, 0-6 and Vikings, 1-4). I can point out that, so far this season, the Panthers have been able to win at precisely the right time to squelch most rumors that they can’t get it done. THIS is the team who needs to knuckle down against the 3-3 Rams next week.
How will we get it done? For starters, we need both Cam and Coach Ron Rivera to be on their own games. Coach, kudos for the go ahead on the fourth-and-one. More of that please. And Cam? Keep flying! You’ve got the arm, you’ve got the team, and you’ve got that winning smile. Trust me when I tell you that the entire Panther Nation wants to wear a winning smile!
Do I have high expectations for Cam Newton? You bet I do! He’s a young quarterback, with the stats and charisma to help him develop into something great. Yes, he makes mistakes, but he owns them. He wants to win, and he knows that responsibility lies squarely on his shoulders.
(Plus, he’s the kind of guy who’ll knock you down and pick you right back up again.)