Panthers Week Seven- Panthers Pull Off Shock Win.

October 23, 2022

The Carolina Panthers pulled off a shock win in Week Seven beating Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-3 in a dominant home win for interim head coach Steve Wilks.

When fans arrived at Bank Of America Stadium on Sunday many expected to see the GOAT in action, but it wasn’t Tom Brady, PJ Walker showed up and overshadowed the great Brady as the Panthers completely dominated the Bucs to give interim head coach Steve Wilks his first win as Panthers HC. 

It’s fair to say heading into this clash optimism amongst Panther fans was very low and this was reflected by the line for this game as draft kings had the Bucs as 13-point favorites on the road. Instead what we saw play out in uptown Charlotte was a dominant display from the Panthers’ defense as they held Tom Brady out of the end zone and to only a single Ryan Succop field goal. 

Despite missing at times in the game all three starting corners as Jaycee Horn was sat out with a rib injury, CJ Henderson left the game with a shoulder injury after a key fourth down stop and Donte Jackson was in and out the game as he nursed an ankle injury. Despite relying heavily on backup Keith Taylor and practice squad player Tae Hayes Brady threw for 290 yards but more importantly zero touchdowns. 

It frankly could have been worse for Brady as the Panthers dropped a trio of interceptions two from Safety Xavier Woods who is proving to be a shrewd off-season acquisition and Cory Littleton another who in a rotational role is proving to be a solid offseason pick-up.

The Defense once again stepped up as it has done for most of the season, Brian Burns added a fifth sack of the season, it was reported Sunday morning by Adam Schefter of ESPN that the Panthers’ had rejected a trade offer for Burns which comprised of two first round picks. Burns is seen as a building block for this franchise and he underlined his importance to the team moving forward.

Panthers Offense Finally Clicks

On the other side of the ball we saw the Panthers’ best offensive performance of the season, and considering this game came just three days after the Panthers traded sta RB Christian McCaffrey, to the San Francisco 49ers this is a serious surprise. Considering the painfully stagnant offense we saw a week ago with PJ Walker not much was expected against the Bucs top ten defense.

However, we saw with McCaffrey no longer in the line-up offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo call easily his best game since being brought in, PJ Walker was trusted to throw the ball further than the line of scrimmage and ended the game 16/22 177 Yds a pair of scores and a QB rating of 126.5. Walker who before the loss at LA in Week Six was unbeaten as a starter put in the best performance of his NFL career to date.

Walker whose NFL career has been plagued with turnover issues showed why he was the XFL MVP back in 2020 as he put together a performance to lead the 1-5 home team to a surprise win. The foundation of this win however was built in the trenches. For the first time, this season Carolina was forced to deploy a different offensive line combination as starting Center Pat Elflein was placed on IR Saturday was a hip injury.

This meant a first start for Bradley Bozeman, the former Alabama star who was expected to be the starter heading into the season but an ankle injury in the week one preseason matchup against the Washington Commanders meant Elflein won the job. Despite Elflein being solid to start the season, many fans were clamoring for the former Baltimore Raven to start, and lining up against stud DT Vita Vea was a tough assignment for Bozeman.

However, apart from giving up a sack, Bozeman had a near-perfect game especially in the run game as he regularly created push at the LOS even against the hulking figure of Vea. The Panthers ran all over Tampa Bay, heading into the game this Bucs’ defense gave up an average of 109 rushing yards per game, in this game the Panthers ran for 173 yards, with CMC no longer around to take the bulk of the carries we saw a committee approach with 15 carry’s for D’Onta Foreman and nine for Chuba Hubbard incuding a score for Hubbard.

 

With the Panthers soon expected to have both Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold available soon this leaves the Panthers coaching staff with a conundrum. But frankly after his performance today and arguably the most solid performance by a Panthers QB since the homecoming for Cam Newton last season there’s no reason to drop Walker for the Week Eight matchup against the Atlanta Falcons the Panthers will hope Walker will ride the confidence of this game, we saw that confidence play out as Walkers two touchdowns were a pair of dimes to DJ Moore and Tommy Tremble.

It was also the best game of the year for DJ Moore, with McCaffrey now playing out West it was expected Moore would be a more integral part of the Panthers’ offense in this one and we saw that play out. Moore was targeted ten times and had seven receptions for 69 yards and a score easily his most productive performance of the season and something Panther fans will hope to continue. 

While many assumed the Panthers were in tank mode following the trading of CMC this team has other ideas as the team was certainly playing hard for interim HC Steve Wilks. And while fans may see this as a “meaningless” win the Panthers are now 2-0 in the NFC South and just a game behind Tampa Bay and Atlanta and with a trip to Atlanta next week the Panthers have the opportunity to keep the season alive.