In a great example of life imitating art, referee Tony Corrente inadvertently left his microphone on for an officials’ huddle during the two-minute warning near the end of the game. Two mild profanities were broadcast over the live mic, along with a lot of joshing between the officials about one of them marking Derek Anderson’s fourth-down quarterback sneak “4 inches” short of a first down on the previous play. If Anderson had made it, the Panthers could have run out the clock and the game would have ended quicker.
“We were 4 inches from going home!” one of the officials said. One also said they should give a nickname to their colleague who judged it not to be a first down and extended the game: “Mr. Four Inches.”
If you’ve ever seen the State Farm commercial in which just this sort of thing happens, you appreciated it even more.
▪ After the afternoon games Sunday, Carolina had taken over the NFL lead in total number of points scored (411) and average points per game (31.6). The Panthers have scored at least 33 points in five of their past six games. The fact that a Carolina team that was offensively challenged for much of last year (even with Kelvin Benjamin) can lead the entire NFL in scoring – that’s almost as remarkable as 13-0 to me.
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▪ The Panthers are going to need to do whatever it takes to keep defensive tackle Kawann Short around – and that means a very big contract extension, likely this offseason. Not since Kris Jenkins in his prime has Carolina had such a disruptive pass rushing force straight up the middle. With two sacks Sunday, Short has nine for the year. That’s the most in any Panthers season for a defensive tackle, surpassing Jenkins’ seven in 2002.
▪ Do you think Ted Ginn Jr. might dig Cam Newton? In his nine-year NFL career, Ginn has had three games in which he has scored multiple receiving TDs. All three have come this season – and two of them in the past two weeks. There were no issues with drops on Sunday. Ginn averaged – and this is not a misprint – 60 yards a catch.
▪ The Panthers’ 260-yard outburst in the first quarter was amazing on a number of levels. It was the most yardage the Panthers have ever gained in any quarter, and the most any NFL team has gained all season in a single quarter. By halftime, Cam Newton had thrown for 246 yards before the Panthers shut him down early.