Sunday, November 16, 2008

Week 11 nearly complete

The Dallas Cowboys (at the time of this blog post) lead Washington 14-10 late in the 4th, so what better time to look back at Week 11 in the NFL, starting with the Carolina Panthers.

The Panthers offense slept in, arriving at Bank of America Stadium at the start of the 2nd quarter, and when they did get there, they erupted for 21 points in the quarter. The slow start allowed Detroit a ray of hope, as they led 7-0 after 1. Detroit put up 3 Jason Hanson field goals, one from 56 yards which may have been good from 66, to trail 21-16 at the break.

Carolina did an adequate job of keeping the Lions at bay the rest of the way, as the teams swapped TD's in the 4th, to get to the final of 31-22. Game balls, as issued by yours truly.

Offense: The Rushing Attack.

Sure, it's one ball for the O-line, the receivers, and the running backs, but come on. DeAngelo Williams goes for 120 yards on 14 carries and 2 TD's, Jonathan Stewart goes off for 130 on 15 carries and a TD. First time in franchise history that the Panthers have 2 runners break the 100 yard mark in the same game. O-line did a great job, as evidenced by a comment made by Williams in post-game. He said, as a running back, " you see colors flashing," which helps determine his route. Today he said there weren't a lot of colors flashing. Simply put, the O-line was slaying the Lions defensive front, and clearing the way for the "Smash and Dash" tandem to blow up.

There was a bit of wind at field level, which may have had an affect on Jake Delhomme's ability to throw it down the field. His numbers were very pedestrian-10 of 19, 98 yards and a TD, but a big "0" in the INT column. Panthers lost on turnover, a strip of Steve Smith on a play that could have been a biggie. Grade out the offense with a nice B effort, as they played well for 3 quarters.

Defense: Charles Godfrey

What a season this rookie is having. He came into camp, and earned the starting job, and has not been a disappointment at all. Against Detroit, Godfrey had a fumble recovery, along with a 4th quarter interception, which set up the insurance touchdown that put the game out of reach. Godfrey also had 5 solo tackles (unofficially), and was just everywhere. Plus, Godfrey handled himself well in postgame, when being teased by fellow safety Chris Harris. Harris was giving Godfrey the business about being tackled by Duante Culpepper after the pick. Harris saying, Godfrey committed one of the cardinal sins-being brought down by a QB. Godfrey replied, "at least I caught it," referring to some of Harris' dropped INT's earlier this year. Touche.

Special Teams: Jason Baker

On a windy Day, Baker's average was down from his norms. Baker averaged 37.4 yards for hsi 5 kicks, but he provided the coverage teams plenty of help in getting their jobs done. Only 1 punt was returned, and that was for 7 yards. The others were either a fair catch, or downed inside the 20, with Baker pulling out a rugby punt that pinned the Lions on their own 2 yard line. Normally Baker's distance averages into the 40 yard area, with his net average staying right near that 40 yard number. Since they have figured out how to keep punts from being blocked, the special teamers have been a solid phase of the game. Props to Rhys Lloyd for 3 more touchbacks, and Mark Jones had 4 kickoff returns for an average of 20 yards per return.

Elsewhere in the NFC South, Atlanta (Carolina's next opponent) dropped a 24-20 decision to Denver (huh?), while Tampa Bay and New Orleans bot picked up wins.

The NFC South as of this hour:
Tampa Bay 7-3
Atlanta 6-4
New Orleans 5-5

Games for the division in Week 12
Carolina at Atlanta (4:15 pm kick)
Tampa Bay at Detroit (1pm)
Green Bay @ New Orleans (Monday Night)

From my seat, Tampa blasts the Lions and gets to 8-3. Green Bay and New Orleans could actually be a better game than the experts may think. That one is a toss up.

As for the Panthers and Falcons, think back to week 4. Carolina won the game 24-9, on a day that saw Muhsin Muhammad rack up 147 receiving yards with a TD, Steve Smith had a 56 yard TD catch, and Jonathan Stewart notched an 8 yard TD run. Carolina dominated the Falcons defensively as well. What does it mean for week 12?


Atlanta has grown up since then, in spite of their loss to Denver on Sunday. The trip to Georgia is no gimme for the Panthers, and they will have to play all 4 quarters to pick up a tough road win, in a building that has been notoriously tough for this franchise. A win over the Falcons would put the Panthers in the catbird seat. After Atlanta, the Panthers go to Green Bay, face Tampa at home on Monday Night (Dec. 8), home with Denver, then on the road at the NY Giants and New Orleans to close out the season.

Sunday was the last patsy the Panthers will see all year, as the weakest opponent (on paper) would appear to be Denver. As they say, "this is where the rubber meets the road."

Oh, and Dallas has beaten Washington, by the way.

Mike Solarte

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