Instant analysis from the Carolina Panthers’ 27-24 win Sunday vs. the Detroit Lions.
Cam Newton is looking like his former MVP self.
After his 2016 post-MVP hangover, offseason shoulder surgery and a slow start to this season, some were wondering if Newton would ever be right again.
And then the past two weeks happened.
Newton posted his second consecutive 300-yard passing performance, shredding the Lions’ secondary and throwing three touchdowns.
Gone were the dink-and-dunk passes that Newton was throwing early in the season, replaced by darts to Ed Dickson, Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, et al.
Newton, never shy of the spotlight, will be hyped up for next week’s primetime game vs. the Eagles, when he’ll be gunning for three straight 300-yard games.
Defense is bending a lot in fourth quarter ...
But not completely breaking.
For the second week in a row, the Panthers saw a big lead go away by allowing a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Matthew Stafford found tight end Darren Fells for TD strikes on back-to-back drives to pull the Lions to within a field goal with 3:22 remaining.
Newton bailed the defense out with a clutch, 17-yard completion to Benjamin on third-and-9 on the Panthers’ final series to secure the win.
But it shouldn’t have been that close, and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks needs to take a long look at his end-of-game schemes and calls.
So this was what Ed Dickson was talking about.
When he replaced injured tight end Greg Olsen after the Buffalo game in Week 2, Dickson said he could put up Olsen-like numbers if given the chance.
Dickson provided most of the Panthers’ offense in the first half, pulling down catches that covered 64 and 57 yards and running roughshod through the Lions’ secondary. He finished with five receptions for 175 yards, the 10th-best receiving total in Panthers’ history.