I'll take this one.
Carolina easily handled Minnesota, exploiting their poor pass defense
and shutting down Adrian Peterson, on their way to a 35-10 win. The team
held Peterson to 62 yards, his lowest of the year, and that was
including 31 on his last carry, well after the game was in hand.
It's hard to say it's a defense-led victory when you score 35 points,
but stopping Peterson allowed Mike Mitchell to pull in two
interceptions, to give him a team leading 3 on the year, that set up the
first and last scores for Carolina. Mitchell's 7 tackles and sack added
with the picks for easily his best career game. The first pick, on the
first drive, set the tone and put Carolina in for the first score a few
Thomas Davis pulled in 9 tackles and two sacks, and really stood out in
nickel duty as well, including stopping Cassel short on a 3rd down
scramble and a pretty deflection against Kyle Rudolph.
That defensive performance allowed Cam Newton to dice up the MN pass
defense to a tune of 20/26 for 242 yards and three scores. Newton hit
Smith for a redemptive 2 yard score early, a rumbling 10 yard shovel
pass to Mike Tolbert before the half, and then a 79 yarder to Brandon
LaFell that blew things open.
Newton chipped in his own rushing TD soon after, and Tolbert returned
to the endzone to cap things off. Deangelo Williams did the heavy
lifting - 17/64 on the ground and 5/54 in the air, tying him for team
lead in receptions with Smith (who only had 21 yards, mostly getting
short routes). Tolbert was 8 rushes for 27 yards on the ground
including some key short yardage plays, and Newton bailed himself out
with 9 for 30.
It was a dominating performance on both sides, with a few miscues (Ted
Ginn bringing a return out for 13 yards, for instance), but with an
efficiency that fit right in with the score. Carolina was 58% on third
down, a perfect 2/2 on 4th conversions, and
Carolina has an average margin of victory of 31.5 points in two wins;
7.33 in its three losses.
It's odd, that when they win, they really, really win. That five score
point margin is larger than the amount it's given up in any single game
(24 to Buffalo, 22 to Tampa including a score that was after the game