▪ It looks simple on a piece of paper. Cam Newton hits Mike Tolbert with a short pass and Tolbert scores from 2 yards out. It was more than that. It was among the best 2-yard touchdowns the Carolina Panthers have ever scored. Listed at 5-foot-9 and 245 pounds, Tolbert looked like a human pinball. The initial hit with which he was slammed would have knocked most men down. Tolbert is not most men. He bounced backward, figured out what he had to do and tried to do it. By now, however, the majority of the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster stood between Tolbert and the end zone. Tolbert avoided tacklers and broke tackles and, amazingly, he scored.
▪ The Panthers threatened to make the game theirs and give fans watching the national telecast an opportunity to go to bed early. They didn’t. It’s not what they do. They don’t win by many, but they win. If you like the tension a close game confers, this team provides it. They beat Philadelphia the same way they beat the first five teams they played. The plays that win or lose games were made by the Panthers, again.
▪ Second-and-1 for the Panthers at their 49, second quarter, holding a four-point lead, and what do they do? They do what nobody at Bank of America Stadium, except the people in the huddle and a few coaches, expect them to. They give the ball to Ted Ginn Jr. on an end around. Ginn runs as if it’s what he was designed to do. To see him in space is a beautiful thing. He is the fastest 30-year-old in Charlotte, the Carolinas and, who knows, the world. Every stride is purposeful, and there’s never wasted motion. Ginn picked up 43 yards.
▪ There were the usual complaints from people who were livid at season-ticket holders for selling their tickets to Philadelphia fans. Many of the complaints came from fans who watch games on TV. To buy season tickets a credit card or a debit card are required. A loyalty oath is not. If they’re your tickets, you can do with them what you want. That’s how the free market works. And, yes, Eagles fans filled the streets and parking lots before the game. But inside the stadium the only voices you heard belonged to the home team.
▪ Ken Burger, who was a superb sports columnist for the Charleston Post and Courier, and who was superb at every other subject he covered for the newspaper, as well as being an author, died Tuesday from cancer. In a nice touch the Panthers asked for a moment of silence for Ken. Most of us get flustered on deadline. Ken never did. He knew he wrote well, so he never had a reason to.
▪ There are times when Charlotte feels like a football town. Sunday night was one of those times. Fans showed up before the 1 p.m. NFL games ended for a game that was scheduled to begin at 8:25. NBC’s “Football Night in America” rolled in, its bus parking at Romare Bearden Park.
▪ Greg Hardy went off on his teammates, Texas and the world Sunday. Demonstrative Dez Bryant tried to calm him down. When Bryant is the voice of reason, you are out of control. Hardy is out of control. His team was losing and the Cowboys had just given up a touchdown on a kickoff return, and Hardy needed to shove people he works with and for. Some guy somewhere will say that Hardy’s behavior is a testament to his competitive nature. He’ll be wrong.
▪ Before the game, there were times when you heard and saw as many fans of the Eagles as fans of the Panthers. Perhaps Carolina fans were lurking. Once the game began, they made the noise.