Charlotte, NC- Well what looked like an easy victory for Panthers today, ended up being one of the craziest endings to a game in this young football season so far. The Panthers were able to get there stagnant run game going with a huge game from second year man Cameron Artis Payne, who is filling in for J Stew who is still out with a shoulder injury.
Payne who racked up 139 yards with 2 td’s on 9 carries, he had 2 carries of 50+ yards both went for scores. Payne on if he found his groove in his second start of the year after only rushing for 40 yards on 9 carries last week.
“Ya I definitely felt like i’m hitting my stride with another start under my belt, i feel like i can hold it down while we let Stewart come back fully healthy.”
The Panthers will surely welcome Stewart back with opens arms even after an impressive rushing performance from Payne on Monday. Payne has had two weeks in a row with key drops in the passing game, that has cost his team first down and most importantly points.
“Yes it is surely something we are working on in practice with him, he has been good filling in for Stewart, but if he wants to take that next step and be considered an every down back in our system and in this league, then you absolutely have to be able to catch the ball. Especially on this team and the type of offense we like to run.”
Coach Miller on Paynes Performance.
It was looking to be a blowout after Payne scored a 60 yard td run off of a stretch run play to bring the lead early in the third to 20-3. After that touchdown the Panthers were unable to move the ball and put points up on the board. They had several drops from all the star players, Benjamin, Payne, and Olsen all had drops for first downs and more. Which in turn put pressure on the defense to stop Winston and Evans in the second half on no rest thanks to constant 3 and outs by the offense.
Evans and Winston were up to the task with Evans completely taking over in the second half. He ended up with 5 catches for 88 yards and two scores. The final score was on 4th down, with Winston heaving it up in the back of the endzone Evans lept up over 2 defenders and came down with both feet in bounds and made a spectacular catch, bringing the game to within a field goal to tie the game.
We asked the defensive captain Luke Kuechly what happened in the second half.
“They made some adjustments and we just couldn’t get as much pressure on the quarter back as we would have liked. When you have a guy like Winston back there with all day to throw to a guy like Evans, bad things will happen, and as you saw they did.”
After that score and with the Panthers needing another first down to seal the victory, they again went three and out after failing to convert on a third and short.
Another great punt that set up the Bucs deep in their own territory the defense came up huge with a strip sack fumble on Winston to seal the victory. We spoke to the coach after this victory.
I’m sure coach Miller is happy with this victory, but he may enjoy it a little more if they can learn to put away teams earlier rather then letting teams hang around, but hey a win is a win right?