Panthers offense comes to life and beats 49ers 23-20

It feels a lot better to write one of these after a victory than a loss, haha. Today, the Panthers looked more like the team I expected to see coming into this year. Matt Moore had arguably the best game of his career going 28-41 for 306 yards, 2 TDs and one (AWFUL) INT. That INT aside, he was almost perfect today and looked more like he did last year. Definitely a good thing to see. The real star of this game was rookie wide receiver David Gettis. He caught 8 passes for 125 yards today and recorded his first two TDs of his NFL career. I have been waiting all year for the young wide receivers to step up and they finally did today. More on that later, let’s break down some of this game.

Looking at my expectations from the preview post, I got most of what I wanted out of this game. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both got 10 touches a piece but the running game struggled to get going all game. The Niners have been good at stopping the run this year but the two of them did look pretty off today. Williams also had a bad fumble in the first quarter. I don’t know how much of it you can blame on the offensive line since they looked fairly solid out there today and Garry Williams did a pretty good job at right tackle. Only gave up one sack, too which was on a corner blitz.

That said, it was great to see the passing game do so well with the running game struggling. Another thing I wanted from this game was for Steve Smith to make some kind of impact and while he didn’t on the stat sheet, him being on the field made an impact itself. Smith was drawing a lot of double coverages from the Niners and that freed up David Gettis on single coverage plays and he made the most of it. Gettis’ double move looked filthy and fooled Nate Clements twice to beat him for two TDs. Speaking of which, that’s another thing I got; we scored more than 20 points! We also had the ball for a lot longer than the Niners. Brandon LaFell also had a very solid game with 6 catches for 91 yards and one of which coming on the game-winning drive. He can seriously become a real deep threat if he can stay consistent.

Matt Moore played with a lot more confidence than I’ve seen him this year. Maybe that time on the bench helped him learn how to read coverages better and actually make some adjustments at the line of scrimmage like he did today. He had that one bad interception which was returned for a TD but aside from that, great game by him. First time I can remember a Panther QB throwing for over 300 yards in recent memory. He also spread the ball out well as 5 receivers had 4 or more receiptions today (Gettis, LaFell, Rosario,  I definitely have a little more confidence in him at QB but I’m a little speculative on if he can keep it up or not.

As far as the defense goes, it was more of the same “bend but don’t break” strategy that Ron Meeks emphasizes. We were able to get pressure on Alex Smith for sure. In fact, Charles Johnson knocked him out of the game after he sacked him and injured Smith’s shoulder. That brought David Carr into the game and to no surprise, he was ineffective. He threw a pass up for grabs in the 4th quarter which was picked off by Richard Marshall, who made a nice leap to get the ball. Frank Gore ran for over 100 yards but the defense was able to halt him in the red zone, which was good and aside from that 53 yard Vernon Davis catch, they didn’t give up any big plays.

Tough to decide who gets the game ball on defense but I’m going to give it to Richard Marshall for the INT which led to the game winning kick by John Kasay (WHO HAS STILL GOT IT!). James Anderson led the team in tackles with and did a solid job of chasing down Gore before he could get any extra yards. Charles Johnson also recorded a sack and is still proving to be our best pass rusher. I was expecting a little more out of Everette Brown, though but I say that every week. I feel that Dan Connor had kind of an off-week too since Gore did get into the secondary a few times, getting past Connor by doing so.

Offensive game ball goes to David Gettis. No question there but Matt Moore deserves a big honorable mention for his performance.

All in all, a great, but somewhat ugly victory for the Panthers and it’s good to see them finally get into the win column this season. I have a lot more confidence in our offense too after today since they seemed to have shown a lot of improvement since the bye week. Maybe it is best to let Clausen sit and let him start next year. If Moore keeps playing like this then I’ll be fine with it. I’m not expecting Moore to throw for 300+ yards a game but seeing him be able to move the ball effectively like he did today was good to watch.

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