The Panthers couldn’t have drawn this first half up any better.
They’re up 10-3 at the break over the Patriots, though both sides are playing the kind of game they’d prefer.
Tom Brady’s trying to spread the field and get the ball out quickly to negate the Panthers pass rush, and it was sort of effective. A Stevan Ridley fumble killed a potential scoring drive, and naturally Ridley has gone away in the aftermath, replaced by LeGarrette Blount.
The Panthers are willing to give up some yards, and they’ve gotten to Brady twice.
Cam Newton’s running a patient, balanced attack, and he’s thrown a touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell and shown enough run game to keep the Patriots honest.
The Panthers have made some young mistakes on penalties, but Steve Smith has also buried himself inside Aqib Talib’s head.
The game’s close enough that adjustments are going to make the difference, and there’s a clear sense of which side you prefer in that case.