Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was angry when he was flagged for hitting Ravens wide receiver Aaron Mellette in the head, because it negated his breakup-turned-interception.
As it turns out, that was bad news for the Ravens. Two plays later, Kuechly picked off Joe Flacco, showing the kind of instincts alarming for a player so young.
“He doesn’t get mad often,” Panthers linebacker Jon Beason told Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports. “But when he does, good things seem to happen.”
In addition to the pick, Kuechly forced a fumble which was recovered for a touchdown, at times living in the Ravens backfield.
It was the kind of performance the Panthers are growing accustomed to from last year’s first-rounder.
“I’m a big fan of ‘Luuuuuuuke’ Kuechly,” Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said. “He’s just a person that holds himself to a standard that failure is not an option for him.
“For him to not get the favor of the call, . . . [and] to come back and get an interception, that’s just a testament of who Luke is.”
Having him in the middle of that defense (a job which used to belong to Beason) is going to keep the Panthers competitive this year. Particularly after they invested their first two draft picks in defensive tackles to keep traffic out of his way, he should be able to continue to make such plays.