Ron Rivera’s gambling style backfired a bit, but the Panthers’ weak link bailed them out.
The Panthers improved to 10-4 by beating the Jets 30-20. Barring a miracle comeback by the Saints against the Rams, that moves the Panthers into a tie for the NFC South lead, with the Saints coming to Charlotte next weekend.
The Panthers followed a familiar formula for the win, stifling the Jets offense throughout the day. A secondary that was billed the “weak link” of their defense by Jets receiver Santonio Holmes came up big late, with cornerback Captain Munnerlyn clinching the game with an interception returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Holmes finished with two catches for 14 yards. While Holmes’ remark was factually correct, the Panthers were clearly motivated by the perceived slight.
Of course, the Panthers had likely done enough to put the Jets away prior to that. The only life the 6-8 Jets really showed was when they responded to a failed fourth down attempt by the Panthers with a long touchdown drive.
But the Panthers came up with a blocked punt which set up a Mike Tolbert touchdown, before Munnerlyn’s pick-six made it all but official.
Running back DeAngelo Williams had 168 combined yards (including a 74-yard receiving touchdown), leading a conservative, but effective attack.