Wrap-up: Panthers 28, Texans 13
December, 18, 2011
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the Carolina Panthers' 28-13 victory against the Houston Texans on Sunday at Reliant Stadium:
What it means: A lot more than you think. This was a turning point for Ron Rivera and his young team. The Panthers went on the road and beat a good team. That’s a step toward bigger and better things for next season. The Panthers had come close to doing something like this a bunch of times this season, but they always built a lead and let it slip away. This time they didn’t. A defense that’s been decimated by injuries and struggled all season stepped up and held a good offense to 13 points. Imagine what Rivera, a defensive coach, can do next season when he gets some injured defenders back and fills a few holes through the draft and free agency? Even the present is much brighter than it was before. The Panthers are 5-9 and no longer are in last place in the NFC South. That honor now belongs exclusively to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Play of the day:DeAngelo Williams’ 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. It came at a time when the Panthers looked like they were starting to collapse again.
Unsung hero: Jordan Senn, who would have been about seventh on Carolina’s depth chart at the start of training camp, came up with a huge interception. Carolina lost linebackers Thomas Davis and Jon Beason to injuries early in the season. The Panthers then went through a bunch of linebackers. But Senn finally earned a starting role. Even when the Panthers get healthy at linebacker next season, Senn should have a job.
Disappointment of the day: Cam Newton came in needing only 167 yards to break Peyton Manning’s record for passing yards by a rookie. Newton came up a bit short, getting 149 against Houston. I think it’s a safe bet Newton will get the record in his next game. Newton threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions.
What’s next: The Panthers host the Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday.
Final Atlanta 24 Jacksonville 14 Final Detroit 23 Buffalo 0 Final Indianapolis 7 Cincinnati 35 Final New York 7 Philadelphia 37 Final St. Louis 13 Miami 14 Final Kansas City 14 Green Bay 34 Final Carolina 10 Pittsburgh 0 Final New England 13 New York 16 Final Washington 24 Tampa Bay 10 Final Baltimore 22 New Orleans 13 Final Chicago 13 Cleveland 33 Final San Francisco 40 Houston 13 Final Minnesota 19 Tennessee 3 Final Denver 27 Dallas 3 Final Arizona 9 San Diego 12 Final Seattle 31 Oakland 41