The Panthers offense was having a tough time making things happen in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Jets, so the defense and special teams came up with big plays to lift the team to a win.
Wes Horton‘s pressure forced a fumble by Jets quarterback Josh McCown and linebacker Luke Kuechly scooped the ball up for a 34-yard touchdown. Cam Newton ran the ball in for a two-point conversion, giving the Panthers a 26-20 lead that grew a few minutes later. The Panthers forced a three-and-out and Kaelin Clay returned the punt 60 yards for a score.
The Panthers would give up a touchdown later in the fourth quarter, but Newton and company were able to run the clock out on a 35-27 victory with the help of a roughing the passer penalty on Jets defensive lineman Mike Pennel. That penalty joined linebacker Jordan Jenkins jumping offside on the list of blunders that will burn the Jets as the loss knocked them to 4-7 without any realistic hope of sneaking into the playoffs.
Newton ran for a touchdown and had a key completion to Ed Dickson while running out the clock, but it wasn’t a good day overall for the quarterback. He had a run of nine straight incompletions bridging the second and third quarter that helped the Jets survive after falling behind by nine points in the first quarter. There were some drops mixed in, but it was a choppy outing for the offense.
The same could be said of the defense, which got strafed by Josh McCown for three touchdowns. It could have been four if replay didn’t find tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had controlled a pass on his way out of bounds in the end zone, but Robby Anderson‘s 146 receiving yards and two touchdowns show there’s work to do on pass defense in Carolina.
That choppiness didn’t stop them from moving to 8-3 on the year and they’ll be in New Orleans next Sunday for a game against the Saints that will go a long way toward determining who wins the NFC South whether the Saints beat the Rams later in Week 12 or not.