Monday night’s football game was set in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, home of the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were hosting the New England Patriots, for arguably this season’s best Monday Night Football Game. The Panthers, 6-4 going into the game were boasting one of the league’s best defenses, up against Tom Brady and the always prolific New England offense. The game was a true barometer for testing the presence of the Panthers’ defense, who have been able to hold offenses like that of the San Francisco 49ers and The Seattle Seahawks. And the Carolina Panthers proved themselves worthy of being a top NFC team.
Cam Newton threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. with 59 seconds left, and the Panthers held off the Patriots 24-20, for their sixth straight victory. Gostkowski’s 26-yard field goal put the Patriots ahead 20-17 before Newton drove the Panthers 83 yards up the field on 13 plays for the go-ahead touchdown. Tom Brady didn’t go down without a fight though. With 59 seconds to work with and three timeouts, Brady led the offense up to the Panthers’ 18 yard line. However, on the last play from scrimmage, Brady was intercepted in the end-zone by Carolina Safety Robert Lester. Time expired. The game was over.
However, there was a caveat. Officials initially threw a flag on the play for pass interference. Gronkowski made his way on a buttonhook route into the endzone, and was being held by Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly. The hold was in the back of the endzone, however, and the pass was intercepted just inside of the endzone. Lester had intercepted the pass before it had made it to Gronkowski, thus determining the ball to have been uncatchable. The flag was waived off, and the Panthers were pronounced the winners, an eerily punctuated win for a big-time game.
Newton completed 19 of his 28 passes for 209 yards and 3 touchdowns and added 62 yards rushing on 7 carries, good for 8.5 yards per carry. Carolina had entered the game as the league’s No. 1 defense, and showed their stuff, sacking Brady twice, and holding Gronkowski to only one reception for fourteen yards in the opening half. Going into the first half, the Panthers had allowed only ten points in the first half in all of their match ups combined. Gronkowski scored in the third quarter on a terrific individual play, taking a short pass from Brady and powering through defenders to cross the plain into the endzone.
Newton threw touchdown passes to Brandon LaFell, Greg Olsen, and Ted Ginn Jr.
To say the least, this was a game that tested both teams, and showed who the competitors really are going into wildcard contention playoffs. The Patriots have struggled to get their offense moving, and were not as improved after their bye-week as many thought they’d be. However, it’s hard to bet against Tom Brady. The Panthers have shown themselves to be an elite defense with an impressively efficient offense, and are leading the wildcard contention race in the NFC. The rest of the season will be interesting to say the least, with both conferences being highly competitive.
from Douglas MacFaddin’s Sports Page http://douglasmacfaddin.net/panthers-hold-off-patriots-on-final-play-for-win/