Going to make notes to get rid of the nerves early, hopefully the game stays competitive and I can keep this up.
*good punt bails out Carolina's measly one yard on their first posession
*Pats looked to spread Carolina signifiantly in the first series to create room, but appear to be unsure about running so far. Dan Connolly has his hands full early and looks to be trying to play dirty to work.
*Continued to spread on the screen and the dump to Vereen for the first down; can't run inside.
*Sean McDermott being too cute out there but bringing the blitz got Greg Hardy free to stop the drive. Carolina has to get to Brady very fast - not an easy job - but both McDermott and Ron Rivera had a great set of games forcing Peyton Manning into turnovers with quick rushes in 2010 as DCs in Philly and San Diego, respectively. I didn't expect this type of game but if Carolina's large rushers are up to the task of playing fast, they can hit Brady.
*Drive on the 11 isn't a great place to start. Beautiful bomb to Steve Smith to get them to midfield, though.
*Mike Tolbert is running better than Deangelo Williams. They'll need both, and Jonathan Stewart, to have big games, but Williams has to break one.
*Cam is on fire on this drive. 3-3, hitting Smith on the bomb and another first down, then Greg Olsen directly after. Also a good sign? Smith is furious, and Aqib Talib is biting. Thanks for 15 yards, Aqib! Smith is responsible for 62 yards in some form already.
*A freakin' laser to Brandon LaFell. Awesome. Touchdown. Also, Talib looks to be about ready to be walked to the locker room. What a drive by Newton and Smith as well. Steve Smith's legacy will be having other people get his touchdowns.
*Pats running the ball well here, to a little alarm. Runs of 7 and 13. Only thing there with the pass is Amendola against the LBs right now.
*Sack time! Lotulelei and Mario Addison take on Brady when he attempts to go deeper. Crazy thing is, that was Star and backups (Addison, Horton, Cole), you would figure they would put more effort against Star.
*Pats answer with a screen - you could feel it coming - to Amendola, who gets a lot of the yardage back and then some. 3rd and 5, they do a good job underneath and Mike Mitchell lays the hammer to keep from allowing the first down.
*4th and two and a tick-tack penalty on Melvin White is a gift to the Pats. Amendola flopped like a Duke center. More futility by the Pats offense, and more bailing out by the refs - Greg Hardy got a piece of the facemask.
*after a beautifully defensed off-tackle which got Thomas Davis a stuff, Kawann Short forces the fumble. Carolina ball! Carolina already had two sacks and a forced fumble, including one of each from the rook DTs.
*Solid first down on an Olsen catch in traffic and a shotgun draw by Jonathan Stewart.
*Panthers have a weird tell on that weird shotgun sweep right by Tolbert. Both Wharton and Gross were lined up on the razor edge of illegal, way back from Ryan Kalil, and then both pulled right. Weird play.
*Panthers are putting a lot on Richie Brockel blocking the edge in pass protection. Hope that doesn't get exploited but he's holding his own. A Steve Smith drop is negated by a Talib hold. Talib definitely interfered but the ball was in Smith's hands.
*NE, for being thirtieth against the run, does well setting the edge. Carolina keeps pushing the ball out, needlessly. When the Stewart run fails, you can tell Carolina's gonna take shots at the endzone, and the 2nd down one to Olsen fails too. Ginn is unable to come up with the comeback on 3rd down and the Panthers kick for the ten point lead.
*Brady loads up on playaction and hits Thompkins in the seam. Blount gets in and gets nothing. Spreading with Vereen, and Mike Mitchell misses a tackle for a first down. A couple of big Blount runs follow, and then on a shot to the EZ Logan Mankings gets a personal foul, showing Connolly isn't the only dirty one. 2 yards is Amendola's gain after, and he pays a price.
*3rd and a massive 22 from the CAR 38. Gronkowski gets 14 for his first action, on the underneath; tense as the Pats go for it on 4th and 8, but it's a dupe to run clock. I don't know if Carolina would've done much with 1:30 of clock and a ten point lead anyway.
*and then they don't. An 8 yarder to LaFell, and he pays the price; then Cam takes the sack. That's your half, 10-3.
I'm a little surprised that the Pats and Panthers are so similar in rushing, and that's with Newton the leading rusher for Carolina. The Pats are 12 for 47, Carolina 11 for 49. The RBs haven't come uncorked and the Pats have been pushing pretty hard against the run, letting Newton beat them, but so far, he is.
Defensively Melvin White is struggling a little on the outside with a penalty and five targets. The Panthers are tightening down on Amendola and have done a good job against Gronkowski. They're protecting against the pass and using Davis (6-3 tackles) and Kueckly (7-1) all over the place. Carolina keeps the first-half TD streak alive.