Carolina Panthers

Instant analysis: Panthers run gantlet, remain undefeated

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates a run against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at on Sunday.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates a run against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at on Sunday. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Instant analysis from the Carolina Panthers’ 37-29 victory against Green Bay:

When the Panthers started 4-0 during the early potion of the schedule, most of the talk from analysts went something like, “Wait until the schedule gets tougher.” Well, Carolina ran through the gantlet of Seattle, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Green Bay without a loss and sits alone as the team to beat in the NFC.

It wasn’t always pretty Sunday. But the Panthers opened up a two-game lead over Green Bay for home-field advantage, plus the tiebreaker.

▪  The Panthers have to work on their fourth-quarter defense. Like, really work on it.

For the second time in a week, a game Carolina had well in hand nearly unraveled as an opposing quarterback picked apart the secondary in the fourth quarter. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott blamed the lack of a pass rush and technique problems in the secondary for the near collapse against the Colts, and the same culprits looked to be at work again Sunday.

The Panthers need to finish better as the games gain more and more importance.

▪  Defensive tackle Kawann Short is as important to Panthers’ defense as anyone.

With the game on the line, staring across the line of scrimmage at reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers, Short broke through the Packers’ O-line and forced Rodgers into a desperation throw on fourth-and-goal from the 4.

The pass went right to Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, who made the game-sealing interception with 1:54 left.

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