The Titans beat the Panthers 30-3 in a humbling game for Cam Newton. Here’s what we learned:
1. The Titans haven’t really played well since starting 3-1, but they remain in the AFC playoff picture at 5-4.
They are only one loss behind the Texans in the AFC South. They are only one loss behind a possible wild card spot. We don’t think Tennessee will make it, but they are remaining relevant far later than anyone expected.
Rookie head coach Mike Munchak deserves some credit.
2. Chris Johnson is starting to turn his season around. He rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Last week he topped 100 yards from scrimmage.
We saw Johnson get caught from behind by a defensive lineman and get tackled in the open field too much in this game, but things are getting better. Tennessee’s offensive line dominated up front.
3. Newton had his worst day as a pro coming off the team’s bye. He threw 40 times for only 212 yards and an interception. Carolina gave up on the running game too quickly. They averaged 5.9 yards-per-carry, but only tried to run 19 times.
4. Cortland Finnegan is having a Pro Bowl season. He and Jason McCourty did a great job holding Steve Smith to only 33 yards. Finnegan also had a sack and a pass defensed. The Titans line Finnegan up everywhere, and he creates havoc.
5. Matt Hasselbeck averaged over eight yards-per-attempt in this game. Tennessee does not have many weapons, so Hasselbeck’s season has been highly impressive.
6. We thought Carolina was past this type of performance. They are unlucky to only have two wins because of all their close losses, but this was easily their worst performance of the year.