The Carolina Panthers came from behind late in a thrilling 33-31 victory against the New York Giants in week 5. The Panthers moved to 3-1 on the season and still are hovering around the top the NFC playoff picture in the early going. There were lots of ups and downs in this game but at the end of the day, the Panthers followed their bye week with a win. Here is a look at who was hot and who was cold this past Sunday.
Hot or Cold? New York Giants-Carolina Panthers Edition
In a very weird offensive game for the Panthers, the hottest offensive performer was sophomore speedster Curtis Samuel. Despite only playing 12 snaps in the entire game, Samuel had four targets and had the biggest offensive play when he ran around and through the Giants defense for a 25-yard touchdown. The play was pure insanity from Curtis and showed how absolutely electric he is. What makes the play even more remarkable was that it was Samuel’s first game being active this season because of a heart condition that caused him to miss the first couple of weeks. The Ohio State product showed that he can make things happen and will probably be in line for more snaps as the season rolls on.
Heat Level: A high fever.
The hottest performance on defense came from the 37-year-old safety, Mike Adams. “Pops” as they call him, had two key interceptions in the game and added six total tackles. This outing was Adams best career game in black and blue and a huge confidence booster for the Panthers secondary. While the new acquisition, Eric Reid, drew most of the bye week chatter, it was the other safety, Adams, who had the outstanding showing against the Giants. While any interceptions are an extra bonus from Adams, if he can play his role in coverage and keep everything in front of him, the Panthers defense can return to scary good form as the season moves on.
Heat Level: A “Carolina Reaper” Pepper.
By far the hottest player during Week Five for the Panthers was none other than their kicker, Graham Gano. In the final seconds of the game, Gano pulled up and hit a game-winning 63-yard field goal that put the Panthers on top as time expired. In the process, Gano tied a record for the longest game-winning kick in NFL history. The heroics prompted quarterback Cam Newton to have the legendary quote of “A wise man once told me a great quarterback is only as good as his kicker.” Gano is on fire during the Panthers first four games, as he’s now seven for seven on field goals attempts. All in all, the Panthers were bailed out thanks to the right foot of number nine and Panthers fans should be happy to have such a reliable kicker.
Heat Level: The world’s most powerful X-Ray laser.
Cam Newton’s Connection With Ian Thomas
Coming into this game, Cam Newton had played almost flawless this season. His decision making had been good and his only interception was a dropped pass by C.J Anderson, in the Atlanta game, that fell right into a defenders hands. In the Giants game, however, accuracy was an issue and Newton threw two interceptions that both looked like really bad throws. Digging deeper though, on both of those picks, rookie tight end Ian Thomas was the target and each time it seemed like there was a route miscommunication. So all of the blame can’t be put on Newton and they could’ve been the result of rookie miscues. Thomas has been thrown into the fire in recent weeks, thanks to a sidelined Greg Olsen. However, it seems like Olsen will be back on the field in Week Six. Thomas will continue to develop behind one of the league’s best tight end’s and look to hold down a still important role, the team’s second tight end, for the rest of the season.
Freezing Level: Inside of a Freezer.
Late-Game Playcalling / Time Management
Panthers fans had flashbacks of former offensive coordinator, Mike Shula on the last drive of the game. Thanks to some iffy playcalling and poor time management, the Panthers nearly didn’t even get a chance at attempting a last-second field goal. Granted, two-minute drills are usually chaotic, but it was a disaster besides a couple of long surprisingly-open strikes. One play that stood out that wasn’t pretty was on a third and one on the brink of field goal range when the Panthers handed the ball to Christian McCaffery out of the shotgun against a stacked defensive line. It barely (and I mean barely) worked and the Panthers were then able to spike the ball to stop the clock for the field goal try. Thankfully, in the end, the Panthers were able to overcome the near blunders, but they may not get so lucky the next time.