Carolina Panthers defeated New York Jets on the road for the first time in franchise history.
Midfield with 2:17 remaining and no timeouts for the Jets Panthers were facing a third and 11. Cam Newton dropped back out of the shotgun and heaved a pass to Devin Funchess 30 yards down the field that was slightly overthrown. The result was a one handed drop by Funchess. However, a flag was thrown as Newton took a shot by Jets defensive lineman Mike Pennel. The personal foul gave the Panthers a first down. They eventually kicked a field goal and sealed the game with a 35-27 win in East Rutherford, Sunday.
“As I always say ‘I always hear often that was an ugly win but I never hear of a such thing that saying it makes sense that it was a pretty loss,'” Newton said during the post game press conference.
Carolina’s offense rushed for 145 yards but Newton was held to 168 yards passing completing 11 of 28 passes. With the offense playing turnover free and both Newton and Jonathan Stewart punching in touchdowns near the goal line the offense did just enough to allow their defense and special teams help win the game. Help Newton is unapologetic for having.
“The most important statistic that I play for is whether we win or lose. Its no reason for a player to beat on his chest when he says he had a good game but the team lost,” Newton said. “It wasn’t a blockbuster outing offensively for us but at the end of the day we found ways to win the football game.
“And we gone need more team wins going forward as we get prepared for the playoffs.”
In addition to Graham Gano’s three field goals Panthers were able to score off a Luke Kuechly 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown and a 60-yard punt return touchdown from Kaelin Clay. The punt return touchdown was the first for the franchise since 2014. For Kuechly, he was rewarded his fifth career NFC Defensive Player of Week after his performance putting him ahead of Julius Peppers for most weekly defensive honors in team history.
“To have the guys pick things up and do the things they needed to on defense and on special teams, it was a big,” head coach Ron Rivera said during the post game press conference.
The offense wasn’t in sync with constant miscues ranging from missed blocks, passes or routes not ran to its best, Rivera said. Understanding its a young offense Newton is patient with the offense saying some of the miscues came at the cost of players feeling out each other. The most important thing is they kept battling.
“Its great to see this team be resilient and find a way to win a football game in a hostile environment,” Newton said.
Next week will be an NFC South showdown against the New Orleans Saints (8-3) where the winner of this game will lead the division.
By Gino Terrell