It was a rough day at FedEx field for the Redskins and their fan base alike. In a battle of two teams that just aren't that good, the Panthers were able to come out on top through a strong defensive effort, and an offense that played well enough for them to win.
Carolina's D was able to keep the RG3 circus at bay, and kept the Redskins out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. It was a hard-fought battle for these two NFC teams.
Hero: The Panthers Defense
The Panthers have one of the better defenses in the league, but that is often overshadowed by their offensive woes. Through a combination of veterans and young studs, the Panthers have one of the most underrated defenses in the league.
Aside from big name players like Charles Johnson, Thomas Davis, and rookie Luke Kuechly, Carolina has a handful of others who would most likely be starters on many NFL teams. Safety Haruki Nakamura played in Baltimore for four seasons and had plenty of playing time, and also rookie corner Josh Norman has played well beyond his years. Norman has 52 tackles on the season; that's more than most defensive backs, including Asante Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Ike Taylor.
The Panthers also have a legitimate pass-rush which was highlighted in this game against the Redskins. Through eight games, Carolina is ranked sixth in sacks with 24 on the season, only seven less than their sack total from a year ago (31).
Robert Griffin III had a tough day at the office, as this was his first game without a rushing and/or passing touchdown. Griffin III didn't turn the ball over, but he certainly was contained by the Panthers. Carolina was able to not only keep Griffin III in check, but also his rookie counterpart, Alfred Morris. Although Morris still averaged 5.8 yards a carry, he was also kept out of the endzone and wasn't able to break as many big runs as he normally does.
The shining moment for the Carolina defense was the goal-line stand on 4th-and-goal when Norman was able to stuff RG3 on the one yard line. Great day for Sean McDermott and his defense.
Zero: The Redskins' Defense
Every year, there seems to be that one team that gets hit hard by the injury bug, and so far this season that team has been the Redskins. After losing Tanard Jackson to suspension, and then Adam Carriker, Brian Orakpo, and Brandon Merriweather to injury, it has been a rough adjustment on defense for Jim Haslett and the Redskins.
Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton is known for his athleticism, just as RG3 is. Unfortunately for the Skins, they don't have the defense that Carolina has. Newton won his first NFL game against the Redskins last season, and had a repeat performance this year. Newton was able to throw for over 200 yards and a touchdown, along with 37 yards rushing and another score. The Redskins had no answer for Newton's size and speed, and he was able to exploit several holes in the Skins defense, namely the secondary.
When Armanti Edwards is able to catch an 82-yard pass, you know you got a problem.
Several penalties were called on the Skins defense which only made it tougher for the Redskins to fight from behind. Washington's performance on defense today left much to be desired for. This was the first game all season where the Redskins didn't have any sacks or takeaways.
The average yards per play for the Panthers in this game was 8.7, for the Redskins? Only 4.3. This was just a case of one team rising to the occasion, and another team crumbling under pressure.