After a disheartening loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1, the Carolina Panthers found themselves in a “must win” situation in Week 2.
Drew Brees and the Saints came into Bank of America Stadium 0-1 having lost to the Washington Redskins in Week 1. Odds were in the Saints favor, having beaten the Carolina Panthers in every outing since 2009. However, Steve Smith and the rest of the Panthers ended this streak Sunday defeating the New Orleans Saints 35-27.
Smith commented after the game, “Times Change.”
The Saints found themselves on top of the Carolina Panthers in almost every statistical category after the match on Sunday, except in the turnover department. Drew Brees had 2 game changing turnovers on the day. Interception number one, by Charles Godfrey for a pick six, and interception number two by Jon Beason to seal the deal late in the fourth quarter.
Cam Newton was back in top shape in his second outing throwing for 253 yards and running for a career high 71 yards. But most importantly, the offensive line and the running game were back in business.
DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, and Jonathan Stewart all scored for the Carolina Panthers, and are all running backs. Newton’s touchdown also came from a powerful ground drive. Steve Smith also finished with 104 yards, marking this as his 39th 100-yard receiving game of his career.
Finally the Panthers played with a sense of urgency. Finally the Panthers played with a purpose. Finally the Panthers showed the direction in which Ryan Khalil had referenced in the Pre-Season.
Panthers tackle Jordan Gross said bouncing back from last week’s poor offensive outing was big. Gross said he’s never been on a team that has run the ball as poorly as the Panthers did last week. “We played like we’re capable of,” Gross said. “I would expect days like this to be the standard, not last week.”
But with this being said, the Panthers do not have much time to sit on their high horse. With a fast turnaround, the Panthers welcome last year’s Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants into Bank of America Stadium Thursday. They welcome Week 2’s leading passing quarterback Eli Manning and his array of receiving threats in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, they welcome one of the nation’s best’s defensive lines, and they welcome a team that knows how to win.
In order to get to the level the Panthers organization talked about so strongly in the pre-season, they find themselves in another “must win” situation.
Beating the Giants in a prime time game on a Thursday night would solidify their presence in the National Football League, it would send a message to their doubters that they are capable of achieving what they set out to achieve, and it would prove that the Carolina Panthers are a force to be reckoned with.
So just as fast as Week 2’s game came and went, the focus has already shifted to Week 3. Focus has shifted on keeping their 2012 team motto alive, which is “Keep Pounding.” Ironic enough, this is exactly what Week 3 is going to be about. Which team can “Keep Pounding” for a complete game victory.