Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Panthers vs. Bucs : 2014 Opener a Success

The Panthers won their first home opener in seven years.
   For the first time in 48 games, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton sat on the sidelines during a regular season game, nursing a rib injury that he suffered in a preseason game.  And for the first time in seven years, backup QB Derek Anderson started a regular season NFL game. 

   For those in the know, it was time to panic.  The team wanted to get off to a fast start in 2014, setting aside the precedent of a combined 3-14 start the last three seasons.  The Panthers had not won an opening game since 2008. 

   Most of the naysayers were picking the Bucs to topple the Cats.  All of those naysayers were wrong.

QB Derek Anderson
   Anderson told coach Ron Rivera that he was ready.  That was the understatement of the day, as he went out and threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions.  TE Greg Olsen and rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin each caught a TD pass, while defensive ace LB Luke Kuechly had three sacks and forced a key fumble.  New Panthers DB’s Roman Harper and Antoine Cason each intercepted Tampa Bay passes.

   Even though Newton was in street clothes and would not play in this game, it did not keep him off of the field.  In the second quarter, during a timeout, Cam sprinted out onto the field to join the Panthers in their huddle, giving all of his teammates an encouraging word.  For his brief escapade, referees gave Rivera a warning to keep Newton off of the field.

   While the final score (20-14) might normally indicate a close game, it was far from that.  The Bucs’ two scores came later in the game, after the Panthers had built a 17-0 lead.   Carolina dominated the first three quarters of the game, and was never really threatened.

   The next time that Cam goes out on the field, it will be official.  He has been announced as the starter for the Panthers home opener on Sept. 14 vs. the Detroit Lions.

NEXT UP : Sun Sept 14 vs. Detroit

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