Smile Cam! You’re On TV!
While this was one of the few match-ups which had absolutely no effect on the playoffs, it was a game that featured two franchises that have gone through a sophomore slump or sorts, with the Panther’s Cameron Newton receiving a rude awakening from the NFL, and with the free agent splurge of the Philadelphia Eagles having an even more disappointing second season than first.In a battle of two teams deeply embedded in Sophomore Slumps, this may seem a little early for a “Silver Lining Bowl”, but this is what we found ourselves in with the Carolina Panthers vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. One of these team’s play has been unrecognizable. The other team is just plain unrecognizable.
The Carolina Panthers got a win, squeezing out with a 30-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, hoping to rid themselves of the streak which had them losing 7 of their past 8 games. The Panthers biggest issue all year was their inability to win close games, from Cam Newton’s fumble while trying to run out the clock against Atlanta, to their one point loss against the Chicago Bears. Most games, Cam Newton has looked like a broken-hearted teenager who lost his girlfriend and his iPad in the same week.
With the cameras on this Carolina Panthers team for potentially the last-time this season, Cameron Newton put on a spectacle. Newton completed 18 of 28 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns, and was also the team’s leading rushing, carrying the ball 14 times for 52 yards and a score. He and Brandon LaFell continue to show signs of chemistry, as LaFell caught 3 passes for 74 yards and a score. Newton also connected with Louis Murphy for a 55-yard bomb, the kind of play that these two were hoping to hook up on more often.
But this wasn’t a game that only showcased the Carolina Panthers’ strong suits. They got 8 carries for 27 yards from Jonathan Stewart, and 11 carries for 21 yards from DeAngelo Williams, bringing absolutely no clarity to a very expensive sore spot for this Carolina Panther team. Graham Gano, the Panther’s kicker, would miss an extra point, as close to a freebie as one can get in this game. And the defense gave up 178 rushing yards to a running back you probably hadn’t heard of 3 weeks ago.
For the Eagles, the hits keep on coming. After losing Jason Peters to start the season (or end it), they have had to deal with injuries in surplus all year, with tonight’s game being no different. The Eagles would lose star receiver DeSean Jackson early in the game, his appearance barely qualifying as a cameo. Not to be outdone by the Eagles offense, the defense would lose defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
The extended post-competitive season they are hosting to see what they have in their young players continues. Nick Foles the rookie quarterback who is apparently the heir to the throne that is the Philadelphia Eagles, completed 16 of his 21 passes for 119 yards, recording neither a touchdown or interception, the indifference of that stat line being felt by the Eagles’ faithful.
If you’re an Eagles’ fan, you want to talk about the phenom that is Bryce Brown. Being a former 7th rough pick (number 229 to be exact), Brown has exploded onto the scene, taking 19 rushes to the tune of 178 yards and two scores tonight. Brown might have lost two fumbles as well, but he has more than earned the right for a second look. While LeSean McCoy may be one of the few bright spots for this Eagles’ team, it seems that they may have uncovered another.
The Panthers came out with a win, and undoubtedly have more of a direction heading into the offseason, for while there will be many moving pieces, they do seem to have their franchise quarterback in place. The Philadelphia Eagles can expect a completely different cast next year from what they had this year. From the presumed firing of Andy Reid, to the replacing of former superstar quarterback Michael Vick, to the potential releasing of free-agent figurehead Nnamdi Asomugha, the Eagles may have more new faces than the Indianapolis Colts did last year. In the Silver Lining Bowl, the Carolina Panthers came out victorious, though it would be hard to convince me that either team is going to end the season with a smile on their face.
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