The Super Bowl runners-up, Carolina Panthers, came into the Los Angeles Coliseum looking for consecutive victories for the first time this season. Against the Los Angeles Rams, they accomplished that feat in a low scoring affair, winning 13-10.
Cam Newton did not have his best game behind center, having been sacked four times by the Rams defense. Not all of that is on him, of course. The offensive line for the Panthers need to do a better job of blocking if they want to keep their star quarterback healthy for the remainder of the season. Efficiency wise, Newton was decent, as he completed 20/32 for 225 yards with one passing touchdown.
Many expected Jared Goff to get some snaps under center against Carolina, but that was not the case as Jeff Fisher stuck to his guns. Case Keenum struggled once more, failing to be consistent with his passes. Each time Keenum failed to hit a wide receivers, “boos” rang down from the stands, growing with each mistake made. Keenum misfired on 19 of his 46 passing attempts, although he is not to blame for some, with his receivers dropping a number of them, including one in the end zone.
The Rams actually looked good on their first offensive possession of the game. Keenum hit Lance Kendricks for a 15 yard gain on the first play of the game. They kept moving the ball, made it past midfield, and wound up on the 37 following a Todd Gurley two yard run. Greg Zuerlein came on to attempt a 55 yard field goal, but missed it. If that field goal had been made, perhaps it changes the outcome further along.
Carolina takes early lead
It took three more possessions before the first points were actually scored. Carolina mixed their play calling selection as well, giving the Rams defense different looks. Jonathan Stewart started the drive with a four yard run, before Newton threw two passes for 12 and 11 yards respectively. The Panthers took a good chunk of time off the clock, as they moved the ball into the red zone. On the ninth play of the drive, Newton hit Greg Olsen from nine yards away to give his team an early 7-0 lead after the extra point was converted.
The only interception of the game came out of Keenum’s hand late in the third quarter. The Rams were pinned back on their side of the field starting this possession 12 yards from the Panthers end zone. They were seven yards away from midfield when disaster struck. Keenum looked towards Tyler Higbee, but Thomas Davis got there first, getting the ball back for Carolina.
Rams cannot complete comeback
Carolina turned that turnover into points on the very next drive. The drive started at the Rams 45 yard line and this time, there was a heavy dose of running. Stewart gained 17 yards on his first run, moving the ball to the 19 yard line, before picking up eight more yards combined on the next two plays. The drive stalled when Newton was sacked for a nine yard loss forcing the special teams to knock in three points.
After that, the Rams finally started to move the ball with a purpose, as they should because they did not have a whole lot of time left on the clock. On 3rd and 7, Keenum threw a perfect ball to Kendricks, but the tight end took his eye off the ball for a split second and dropped it in the end zone, forcing LA to kick a field goal.
Following another Carolina field goal, the Rams had one more drive left in them to try and cut a portion of the lead. The drive started out slow, and the Rams faced a 4th and 11 right at the start. This time, Keenum hit Kenny Britt for 11 yards, keeping the game alive.
Benny Cunningham became a factor for the first time in this drive too. He caught two passes in a row for 13 yards before gaining 13 more on the ground. Keenum finally unleashed a long pass to Brett Quick for 27 yards to get the Rams inside the 10. Finally, Britt caught a pass from 10 yards out on fourth down to get within three points. That would be as close as they got, however, as the Rams could not execute an onside kick properly.