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Thursday, November 14, 2013
Carolina strength is handling sudden change

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One of the best signs of a good defense is how it handles adversity.

Sudden change -- when the offense or special teams turns the ball over to put the defense back on the field -- as coaches refer to it.

In that category, the Carolina Panthers have been outstanding. They rank first or second in the NFL, depending on how you want to look at it, which has been big during their five-game winning streak.

In terms of points allowed, the Panthers (6-3) rank second with 13 to Kansas City's 10. The league average if 48.

But the Panthers have had 13 sudden change situations compared to only eight for the Chiefs, so their 1.0 average per game ranks first to KC's 1.25. They have had to defend on 55 snaps to only 34 for the Chiefs, which also makes their numbers more impressive.

Carolina had two sudden change stands in Sunday's 10-9 victory at San Francisco, holding the 49ers to a field goal each time. The only touchdown allowed this season on sudden change came in the fourth quarter of a 22-6 loss to Arizona.

The Cardinals scored on a third-down pass after a fumble gave them possession at the Panthers' 9. Were it not for that, Carolina's streak of allowing no more than 15 points would be seven straight.

Its streak of five straight is the longest by any team since the 2011 Houston Texans. No other team in the league has a streak longer than two this year.

Sudden change is a big reason.

"The players know that’s the sign of a good defense,'' defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "Wherever they put the ball down, we have to do our job. It comes down to a mentality and we’ve tried to establish that.''