I believe what Cam Newton said about his exchange with referee Ed Hochuli. Newton says he asked Hochuli why a penalty wasn’t called after a defender hit him, and Hochuli responded that Newton was too young to get the call. But if the older the player, the more likely he is to get a penalty, former Panthers quarterback Vinny Testaverde would still have a job.
▪ If I’m ranking the Carolina Panthers’ most essential players, defensive end Charles Johnson is at worst No. 6. Johnson left the field on a cart on a cart in the fourth quarter. He apparently aggravated a hamstring injury. The team’s best pass rushers are Johnson and Mario Addison, although Johnson has been understated this season. Still, Carolina needs him on the field.
▪ The Carolina Panthers have the longest regular-season winning streak in the NFL. They’ve won seven straight. They began the streak in New Orleans Dec. 7 and sustained it by beating New Orleans Sunday. They don’t get the Saints again until December.
▪ Fans will be criticized for either staying home Sunday or watching Carolina-New Orleans from a Bank of America Stadium lounge or concourse. Although paid attendance was 73,402, there were rows with more empty seats empty than occupied. In the old days I criticized fans for not showing up. I finally figured out that they can do what they want with their tickets. Watch from a lounge, where the players can’t hear them, or watch from a stadium seat, where players can. It’s none of my business. It’s none of yours.