Carolina Panthers

Panthers report card vs. Bengals: Best grades for stellar run game, Cam Newton, OL

Grading the Carolina Panthers for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati:

A+ Quarterback: Cam Newton followed up a stellar Week 2 performance with an even better one on Sunday against Cincinnati. He was 15 of 24 for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran in two scores himself. He made great decisions and most of the incompletions were drops.

A+ Running backs: Christian McCaffrey rushed for 184 yards on 28 carries. That is not a typo. C.J. Anderson only got three touches, but one was a 24-yard touchdown catch-and-run on a slick misdirection play.

B Receivers: Carolina’s receivers had a shaky start with two drops. Devin Funchess rallied after an early drop to lead the team in receiving with four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.

A+ Offensive line: It’s kind of amazing that an offensive line featuring a left tackle signed off the street in Week 2, two backup centers playing guard and a right tackle who was on the left in Week 1 only gave up one sack to the Bengals’ fearsome defensive front and graded the road for McCaffrey’s 184-yard day.

A Defensive line: The line had better luck containing the run game this week, allowing just 61 rushing yards. When the pass rush popped, it helped rush two Andy Dalton throws that led to interceptions. Defensive end Efe Obada, who had a sack and an interception, was the highlight of the day.

B+ Linebackers: The Panthers’ linebackers also had a better day against the shifty Bengals rushing attack. Luke Kuechly left the game with cramps, but re-entered and made a couple of big plays.

C Secondary: While rookie Donte Jackson had two interceptions, third-year corner James Bradberry played really well against A.J. Green and veteran nickel Captain Munnerlyn was solid off the edge and in run support, this grade is brought down by safety Colin Jones, who gave up at least one of two touchdowns. Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd had 132 yards and a touchdown.

A Special teams: Carolina’s special teams were consistent, as usual. Graham Gano made his field goal attempt and all four extra points.

A Coaching: Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner called a stellar game, offering a few different looks and getting the run game into a rhythm.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071; @jourdanrodrigue
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