Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers are 9-0 after beating Tennessee Titans 27-10

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton extends the ball across the goal line for a touchdown as the Tennessee Titans defense tries to make the tackle in the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The Panthers defeated the Titans 27-10.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton extends the ball across the goal line for a touchdown as the Tennessee Titans defense tries to make the tackle in the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The Panthers defeated the Titans 27-10. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

It wasn’t always pretty for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, but road wins don’t have to be.

The Panthers topped the Titans 27-10 at Nissan Stadium with steady play from Cam Newton and a strong defense that held the Titans offense to tying its lowest output with Marcus Mariota at quarterback this season.

At 9-0, the Panthers remain one of three unbeaten teams in the NFL and continue their best start in franchise history. Carolina has won 13 consecutive games dating to last season.

Carolina never trailed in a game that remained tight until late in the fourth quarter. The Panthers didn’t hold a two-score lead until midway through the final quarter.

Newton had his most accurate day of the season going 21-of-26 for 217 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown, but was sacked a season-high five times, though.

By the end of the game, Nissan Stadium was filled mostly by Panthers fans, who traveled well.

Three who mattered

Josh Norman: One of the league’s best cornerbacks was targeted just once, and it was a completion of 9 yards. Norman continues to take away the receiver he’s covering, and Sunday it was mainly Dorial Green-Beckham.

Joe Webb: The quarterback-turned-special teams ace had a costly block in the back on a Ted Ginn Jr. punt return touchdown. The block came away from the return and took six points off the board.

Ted Ginn Jr.: Ginn had the touchdown called back but took a fourth-quarter punt return 23 yards to get the Panthers on the plus-side of the field. He also absorbed a big helmet-to-helmet hit in the third quarter to give Carolina an extra 15 yards.

Observations

▪  Newton had 11 completions to start the game before throwing high to Ginn in the second quarter. The team record for consecutive completions in one game is 13.

▪  Defensive end Charles Johnson had to fund his trip to Tennessee and buy his own ticket to the game because he’s on the temporary injured reserve. He tweeted before the game that he was looking to buy a ticket, and he joined the team on the field before the game.

▪  Brad Nortman got off what appeared to be a bad punt on the first series of the second half, but the ball bounded down the sideline and turned into a 63-yard punt from the Carolina end zone.

▪  The Titans entered the game as one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league, getting a sack on more than 8 percent of every opponent’s dropbacks. They sacked Newton three consecutive times in the third quarter.

▪  There was a lot of missed blocking assignments for the Panthers. Mike Tolbert didn’t chip a pass rusher and got into his route early on a Newton sack. Ed Dickson also missed a blitzer in the third quarter and allowed Newton to get sacked.

Worth mentioning

▪  Dickson’s second-quarter touchdown was his first receiving touchdown of the season and his second on the year. He had a return touchdown on a Jonathan Stewart fumble against Tampa Bay in Week 4.

▪  The New York Times’ Fourth Down Bot said the Panthers should have gone for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. But Carolina opted to go up by two scores at 20-10 rather than risking an empty trip to the red zone.

▪  The Panthers appeared to come out of the game relatively healthy. No one was reported as injured during the entire game. Charles Tillman left with a right leg injury but returned without missing a snap.

They said it

“Today everything was right on the money.” – Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, on Newton’s accuracy Sunday.

“He can get under a guy's skin without saying a word to him.” – Ted Ginn Jr., on chippiness toward Newton on Sunday.

“He was teasing on the sideline, saying ‘I don’t think they put me in the gameplan.’ I told him I don’t care, I’m going to keep giving you the ball.” – Newton on Olsen, who finished with eight catches for 80 yards.

P@nthers

Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9

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