Panthers Are Rolling
October 1, 2015
The maturity of Cam Newton was on full display on Sunday as the Carolina Panthers raised their record to 3-0 with a 27-22 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Newton put together one of his most complete performances of his five-year career. Shew, has it already been five years? Newton completed 20 of 31 passes for 315 yards with a pair of touchdowns to tight end Greg Olsen and also ran for a score as the Panthers remained in first place in the NFC South.
The maturity I am talking about was evident in the fourth quarter with his team leading 20-16 count. Newton, on a third-and 2 at the Saints 13 yard line.
Saints’ Luke McCown
He changed the play at the line calling his own number and scored easily after faking a handoff up the middle. Newton has now thrown five touchdown passes and run for two other six-pointers. His rushing touchdown total now rests at 35, a total that ranks seventh in NFL history by a quarterback.
Carolina may have caught a break as Drew Brees did not play due to a shoulder injury. But his replacement, Luke McCown, played extremely well. The backup completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards, but it wasn’t enough to save the Saints (0-3) from falling three games behind the division leading Panthers and Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South.
McCown started fast, completing 14 of 15 passes for 100 yards on the first two drives, using shot passes underneath the coverage. Mark Ingram’s 5-yard touchdown run put the Saints up 10-0 before the Panthers had run their eighth offensive play from scrimmage. But Newton and Olsen battled back. The Pro Bowl tight end had eight catches for a career-high 134 yards.
Even with the exploits of Newton and Olsen, it was Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, who sealed the deal with a leaping interception of McCown in the end zone with just over a minute remaining. It was the second straight week the Panthers needed a late stand from their defense to seal the victory.
College Football Fodder
Everyone thought it would take Jim Harbaugh a few years to rebuild the University of Michigan football program. It is beginning to look like the future is now as Harbaugh has Michigan off to an impressive start this season.
Harbaugh and the Wolverines opened some eyes last weekend when they destroyed No. 22 BYU by a 31-0 score. Michigan improved to 3-1, a mark that leaves them just two victories short of last year’s win total.
The Wolverines actually cracked the top 25 in the national rankings, coming in at No. 22. Michigan’s lone loss came at No. 10 Utah. And that loss does not look to bad these days as the Utes demolished Oregon in Oregon on Saturday. Michigan, which held BYU to 105 total yards, opens Big Ten play next week at hapless Maryland.
Tennessee is also rebuilding and have had two heartbreaking losses this month. The Vols held a 17-3 lead on Oklahoma in Knoxville on Sept. 12 and blew it, losing in double overtime. Saturday, Tennessee squandered a 27-14 fourth-quarter lead at Florida and lost, 28-27. It was Tennessee’s 11th straight loss to the Gators.
Speaking of former powerhouse programs rebuilding, how about Texas. Last week, the Longhorns failed on an extra point try and lost by a point to visiting California. Saturday, in Austin, the Longhorns’ punter dropped a center snap near his own goal line and that allowed Oklahoma State to kick the game-winning field goal. Texas is now 1-3 for the first time since 1956.
How about this fodder? Did you know that Thomas Jefferson scored on a 72-yard run to give Delaware an early 7-0 lead at North Carolina? Yes, it happened before the Tar Heels exploded for a 41-14 victory. The younger Jefferson did carve up the Heels defense for 163 yards in 22 carries.
We lost a treasure when Hall of Famer and New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra died of natural causes last week.
Berra, even though he is considered one of the best catchers in major league history, may be better known for the way he creatively utilized the English language, with what became known as Yogi-isms.
The late Yogi Berra
Here are a few of my favorites. Trust me, they will leave you thinking. “It’s deja vu all over again.” “You can observe a lot by watching.” “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.” “You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours.” “The future ain’t what it used to be.” “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” “I never said most of the things I said.” “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” “Pair up in threes.”
Let me close with the one he is most well known for. “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Such a simple statement.