Fresh after a convincing victory against the Washington Redskins and sitting atop of the NFC South with an undefeated record with six games remaining in the season, I feel safe in saying that the Carolina Panthers will represent the division in the postseason.
The win against the Redskins was indeed convincing. But it didn’t appear that it would be early on in the contest.
On the Redskins first drive, QB Kirk Cousins started off with a short pass to Pierre Garcon for 13-yards to the Washington 36 and a short pass to Jordan Reed for 7-yards putting the ball on the Washington 41 yard line. However, in an attempt to hit DeSean Jackson, who was wide open in the middle of the field, Cousins instead threw an interception that was returned to the Washington 31.
The Panthers scored on a three-play drive that finished with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Jonathan Stewart.
On the next series, Cousins led a three-play drive that ended in a 56-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson.
Newton then led a 16-play drive starting on the Carolina 22 that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Newton to Mike Tolbert.
On the ensuing kickoff, Andre Roberts ran 99 yards for a touchdown.
After three-and-out series by both the Panthers and Redskins, Newton led a 10-pay drive that included an apparent 75-yard pick six by Redskins cornerback Chris Culliver. Culliver struck receiver Greg Olsen with his shoulder then with his arm high near his head as Olsen lowered his head preparing for the hit, he bobbled the ball and Culliver caught it and dashed in for the apparent score. However, Culliver was flagged for unnecessary roughness and the Panthers retained the ball on the Redskins 46-yard line. Five plays later Newton hit Ted Ginn Jr. for a 2-yard score.
The Redskins never recovered. They fumbled the ball on three consecutive drives and the Panthers scored two touchdowns and a field goal.
Cousins finished with 22 completions on 30 attempts for 207 yards, a touchdown, one interception and two fumbles. He was sacked five times.
The Redskins running game was nonexistent. They could only muster 14 yards –- Chris Thompson rushed for 10-yards on four carries; Alfred Morris gained no yards on two attempts and Matt Jones gained no yards on five attempts and also fumbled.
DeSean Jackson caught five passes for 87 yards and a touchdown; Jordan Reed caught six passes for 46 yards and he fumbled once.
Newton finished with 21 completions on 34 attempts for 246 yards and five touchdowns. He was sacked twice.
Stewart rushed for 102 yards on 21 attempts; Deven Funchess caught four passes for 64 yards and a touchdown; Jerricho Cotchery caught four passes for 57 yards; Olsen caught three passes for 54 yards and one touchdown and Ted Ginn caught five passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. Stewart caught 1 pass for a 12-yard score; and Mike Tolbert caught two passes, one for a touchdown. PANTHERS 44 REDSKINS 16
There was a time in the not-to-distant past that the Atlanta Falcons was part of the undefeated elite of the National Football League, but not anymore. They have lost four of their last five games, the latest against the Indianapolis Colts.
Some could blame the loss on the concussion Falcon’s running back Devonta Freeman suffered that forced him to leave the game in the first quarter. He had just contributed a 39-yard run and the Falcons were able to build leads of 14-0 and 21-7 in the first half. However, Freeman’s replacement Tevin Coleman, who began the season as the team’s starter, could only achieve 48 yards on 17 carries and the offense collapsed in the second half as they turned the ball over four times and did not take advantage of three Colts’ turnovers.
Colts’ linebacker D’Qwell Jackson tied the game on a pick six with just over 10 minutes remaining. Kicker Adam Vinatieri made the game-winning 43-yard field goal with 52 seconds left. This marked Vinatieri’s 300th game and his winning boot was the 26th time he had won a game in the final minute of regulation or in overtime.
Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan was intercepted three times and finished with 25 completions on 46 throws for 280 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He also received a cacophony of boos from Falcons fans due to his bad performance.
On the other hand, Julio Jones had a great game as he caught nine passes for 160 yards.
The Falcons took the lead when not-often-used fullback Patrick DiMarco was the target on two of Ryan’s three touchdown passes. Leonard Hankerson caught a three-yard touchdown pass on the Falcons’ first possession in the second half.
Forty-two year old Matt Hasselbeck, the oldest player in the league, replaced starter Andrew Luck and threw two touchdown passes to Ahmad Bradshaw. Hasselbeck finished with 23 completions on 32 attempts for 213 yards. COLTS 24 FALCONS 21
The Philadelphia Eagles continued their decline as they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston tied a rookie record with five touchdown passes and running back Doug Martin rushed for 235 yards. He had gained 177 yards in the first half alone with runs that included 84 yards and 58 yards. Winston finished with 19 completions on 29 attempts for 246 yards. Four of his five scoring passes took place in the first half and went to four different receivers.
The Buccaneers finished with 283 rushing yards and 246 passing yards for a total of 521 yards. The rushing yards set a franchise record and the total yards of offense were the second best in franchise history in a regular season game. Their best was 573 yards in a game in 1980. They converted nine of 12 third down plays and three of Winston’s TD passes came on third downs.
Mike Evans caught four passes for 63 yards and a touchdown; Vincent Jackson caught four for 56 yards and a score and Cameron Brates, Charles Sims and Russell Shepard caught one touchdown pass each.
Mark Sanchez substituted for starting QB Sam Bradford and threw two touchdown passes and was intercepted three times. He finished with 26 completions on 41 throws and was sacked three times.
Leading rusher for the Eagles was DeMarco Murray, who gained 64 yards on 13 carries. Eagles Josh Huff and Darren Sproles caught a touchdown pass. Brent Celek led the receivers with seven catches for 79 yards and Riley Cooper followed him with two catches for 42 yards. BUCCANEERS 45 EAGLES 17
NFC SOUTH STANDINGS Overall Division
CAROLINA PANTHERS 10-0 2-0
ATLANTA FALCONS 6-4 0-2
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 5-5 2-1
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 4-6 1-2
NFC SOUTH SCHEDULE
PANTHERS @ COWBOYS THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2015
BUCCANEERS @ COLTS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2015
SAINTS @ TEXANS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2015
VIKINGS @ FALCONS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2015
Courtesy of NFLspinzone.com