The class of the NFL this season could be in the NFC SOUTH with Atlanta and Carolina remaining undefeated. The rest of the division, the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can’t do anything but look up. Those two teams are already three games behind.
Cam Newton piloted the Panthers in their win over the Buccaneers by throwing two touchdown passes with no interceptions, even though the weather conditions were less than ideal. However, it was the Panthers defense that should be credited with the win.
Panthers cornerback Josh Norman set the pace for the D with two interceptions, returning one 46 yards for a touchdown and the other 34 yards to set up another touchdown. The Panthers defense overall took the ball away from the Buccaneers a total of five times. Even Panthers’ 255-pound back up tight end Ed Dickson got into the act when he grabbed Panthers’ running back Jonathan Stewart’s fumble and ran it in for a score.
Bucs’ rookie quarterback Jameis Winston had a mediocre day completing 26 passes on 43 attempts for a total of 287yards and two touchdowns and was sacked twice. The 287 yards was a career high. Norman’s first pick six was Winston’s first pass attempt of the game and permitted the Panthers to jump to an early 10-0 lead. Buccaneers running back Doug Marin rushed for 106 yards and one touchdown and the Bucs outgained the Panthers 411 yards to 244 yards.
Panthers’ DBs Kurt Coleman and Thomas Davis also had picks.
Newton threw two touchdown passes to Ted Ginn Jr. of 6 and 12 yards and finished with only a total of 124 yards passing, but he also contributed 51 yards running. He had one turnover, a third quarter fumble. Obviously, his passing numbers were not good, but he could claim that the off and on rainy conditions were the contributing factor.
Bucs’ kicker Kyle Brindza continued to have problems. Last week he missed three field goals and an extra point. In this game he missed two field goals and an extra point.
It was the Buccaneers’ 11th consecutive home loss and their fifth straight loss to the Panthers. PANTHERS 37 BUCCANEERS 23
Atlanta Falcon’s running back Devonta Freeman, who scored three touchdowns in the week three victory over the Dallas Cowboys, did it again scoring three more touchdowns and rushing for 68 yards on 14 carries and catching five passes for 81 yards in the week four win over the Houston Texans. After replacing the Falcons’ starting running back Tevin Coleman, who suffered a rib injury in the Falcon’s week two win, Freeman has scored an NFL-leading seven touchdowns. His scores in this game were on runs of 16-, 23- and 6-yards and he contributed a 44-yard reception that set up another score.
Ryan Mallett started for the Texans and completed 12 passes on 27 attempts for 150 yards. Falcons’ defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux deflected and intercepted Mallet’s second pass in the game. Mallett finished the game with a 46.8 QB rating. Brian Hoyer replaced him late in the third quarter after the game was way out of reach and scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, making the final score somewhat respectable. He completed 17 passes on 30 attempts for 232 yards with two passing touchdowns and had a QB rating of 103.8.
Falcon’s QB Matt Ryan completed 19 passes on 27 attempts for 256 yards. His favorite receiver was Leonard Hankerson, who had six catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Falcons 48 Texans 21
New Orleans Saints’ QB Drew Brees missed last week’s game due to a bruised rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder, but played in the week four games against the Dallas Cowboys even though he appeared not to be 100 percent healthy. Still, he was able to complete 33 passes on 41 attempts for 359 yards and two touchdowns. It was Brees who finally won the game in OT with his 400th touchdown pass of his career to C.J. Spiller who took it 80-yards for the score on only the second play of sudden death for the Saints first win in 2015.
Brees’ overtime heroics were necessary because Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden managed a clutch 91-yard drive that culminated in a 17-yard scoring pass to Terrance Williams with less than two minutes left.
Still, the final results in OT gave Weeden the distinction of losing his 10th consecutive start, tying him with San Francisco 49ers’ back up QB Blaine Gabbert for the longest such streak among active quarterbacks.
The extra time may not have been necessary if Saints kicker Zach Hocker didn’t miss a 30-yard field goal. He was successful from 51 yards out earlier in the game.
Saints’ running back Mark Ingram collected 128 yards on a combination of runs and short pass receptions.
Cowboys’ running back Joseph Randle could only muster 26 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown as well as the ire of the entire Cowboys’ coaching staff. Randle’s score was accomplished on a one-yard run in which he leaped over the scrimmage line and appeared to have fumbled the ball. However, after a review, the referee reversed the call on the field and ruled it a touchdown. The coaches were still livid because they had told the back not to leap due to the possibility of a fumble.
Cowboys’ linebacker Sean Lee had to leave the game with a concussion and running back Lance Dunbar, who rushed for 54 yards in the first half, left with a knee injury after returning a kickoff. SAINTS 26 COWBOYS 20
NFC SOUTH STANDINGS
CAROLINA PANTHERS 4-0
ATLANTA FALCONS 4-0
TAMPA BAY BUCCANERS 1-3
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 1-3
NFC SOUTH SCHEDULE
REDSKINS @ FALCONS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2015
JAGUARS @ BUCCANEERS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2015
SAINTS @ EAGLES SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2015
Courtesy of Bloggingdirty.com