NFL

Panthers End Seahawks NFC Dynasty

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It shouldn’t have been a surprise to America that the Carolina Panthers took down the Seattle Seahawks.  After all, Carolina was the No. 1 seed playing at home.

Still, most of America conveniently ignored the fact that the Panthers had been the better football team all year long, with the better quarterback and the better defense.

Most people even chalked up the Panthers Week 5 victory in Seattle as somewhat of a fluke, due to how they came back in the fourth quarter.

That couldn’t happen twice, could it?

It didn’t need to happen.  Carolina raced out to a 31-0 halftime lead, the largest lead in their franchise history, and they didn’t need to score another point to end the postseason NFC run of dominance by Seattle.

“The playoffs bring out, more than any other time, the impact of ‘Big Mo,'” Newton said after Carolina’s 31-24 victory over Seattle. “Momentum. We can’t wait for no one to make plays for us.”

Although Carolina held on, the second half wasn’t a thing of beauty.  The Panthers certainly appeared to lift their collective feet off the accelerator, letting the two-time defending champs back into the game to a certain degree.

“We have to find a way to complete a full game of football,” said the All-Pro quarterback and league MVP favorite. “We have been known to take our foot off the throttle, and we have to find that killer instinct.”

The idea that Cam Newton was some sort of choker didn’t get extinguished on Sunday.  It should have never existed in the first place.  Newton single-handedly led an otherwise mediocre Auburn team to the 2010 National Championship in one of the best season’s by any player in college football history.

Newton won a playoff game last year against Arizona with a sub-.500 team.  Now, he dethroned the NFC champs.

To put it simply, with Cam all things are possible.

The best part about this Carolina team is that Newton doesn’t have to win games by himself, despite having a major lack of household names on offense.  Running a version of the zone-read offense, running back Jonathan Stewart opened the game with a 59-yard gain, and scored just three plays later.

Defensively, the Panthers swarmed and Luke Kuechly put the team up two touchdowns with his 14-yard interception return for a touchdown.  Carolina picked off Russell Wilson twice and sacked him five times for a loss of 41 yards.  The quick start basically took away any of Seattle’s running game, and Marshawn Lynch was a non-factor, rushing for just 20 yards on six carries in his first game in over two months.  The Seattle running game was so absent, that their longest gain came on a fake punt by cornerback DeShawn Shead (17 yards).

The Carolina Panthers have been doubted all season long and the only reason why is because this particular version hasn’t advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs.  The Seahawks didn’t get to the Super Bowl…until they did.  Same thing with the Patriots, Steelers, Packers, Saints and every other team that’s been good.

A lack of experience shouldn’t force one to look past the 16-1 record that Carolina has put together.  The good news is that there’s a maximum of two more times you can pick against the Panthers and be wrong.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.