Carolina showed out on highlights, and got the win, but I'm not
convinced the team is as good as the scoreboard.
What looked like a fairly poor first quarter, including a first drive
defensively that just didn't make it, turned into a crazy second quarter
for Carolina when, trailing 7-0, Ted Ginn's first return of the
preseason went 70+ yards for a touchdown, sparking some of the crazier
non-offensive scoring Carolina's ever been involved in.
Following the punt return TD, Drayton Florence added a pick-six a few
plays later; Thomas Davis returned a fumble for a TD a few plays after
that. Luke Kuechly was playing out of his mind, forcing both (QB
pressure on the INT, and forced the fumble on a massive hit behind the
Kuechly created another INT on a nasty hit on Aaron Mellette that was
illegal, then legal; when it was returned to illegal after a commercial
break, Kuechly righted it by snagging his own pass from Joe Flacco. DJ
Moore closed out the non-offensive scoring by throwing in yet another
pick-6 off Tyrod Taylor in the 3rd.
Also shining in the game was rookie DT Star Lotulelei (I'd added an I
in the middle of his name for two years now, sorry about that gaffe all
this time), who had a pair of stuffs and a sack. He showed some looks
where he wasn't playing NT, and that he can be an effective 3-technique.
He could honestly be a top notch 5-tech, but Carolina doesn't have a
better nose player (they did roll out a number of 3-4 looks early in the
On the back end, the offense didn't live up on its end. Cam Newton,
10/19 for 99 yards, was somewhat efficient if you count drops by Brandon
LaFell and David Gettis. Newton had a few balls sail on him that were
to open receivers as well. The running game never got going, and after
Amini Silatolu went out with a hamstring injury, there was no line
consistency; there wasn't much before that, either. Newton faced more
pressure than before, and while he gained 20 yards on two rushes, it
wasn't enough to bolster an offense that couldn't pick up first downs.
So, a 34-27 game with four non-offensive TDs wasn't what I was
expecting - I don't know if you can ever expect anything like that
again, either. So maybe the offense should pick it up a little.