CAR-WAS grades: Panthers put together strong all-around performance
Carolina Panthers 26, Washington Redskins 15
Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Carolina’s 26-15 win over Washington in Week 15:
Quarterback grade: Cam Newton, 73.6
Newton attacks middle of the field in Panthers’ win
Cam Newton was able to take control against the Washington secondary and linebackers with intermediate passes in the middle of the field, to the point that it looked at moments like Washington was not going to stop the Panthers’ offense. While Newton still had some issues with accuracy, his receivers did have some trouble with catching the ball, especially Ted Ginn, who had a drop on a very good deep throw.
Top offensive grades:
FB Mike Tolbert, 83.8
RB Jonathan C. Stewart, 82.2
TE Greg Olsen, 81.4
TE Ed Dickson, 79.6
T Mike Remmers, 79.0
Stewart carries the load in running game
Jonathan Stewart showed why he is always near the top of PFF’s elusive rating, with five forced missed tackles in this one. Against Washington, the Panthers showed all of the option looks that makes their offense difficult to stop, but with Newton coming into the game with an injured shoulder, he was not a true threat to run the ball. That left Stewart to shoulder the load, earning a 3.44 yards after contact per rush average and sealing the game with a 34-yard run.
Top defensive grades:
DI Vernon Butler, 83.6
DI Kyle Love, 81.1
CB Daryl Worley, 78.3
LB Shaq Thompson, 78.3
S Kurt Coleman, 77.6
Butler leads the way for defense in impressive shutdown performance
The Panthers’ rookie first-round pick Vernon Butler had his breakout game of the season on Monday night, with an impressive all-around performance in the interior. All season he has been limited as a rotation player along the line, but with his performance tonight combined with the Panthers being all but out of the playoff race, he could see some more snaps in the final three games of the season. On the night Butler had three hurries and a batted pass, which resulted in a pass-rush grade of 79.9.
Quarterback grade: Kirk Cousins, 79.0
Cousins’ late surge not enough to earn win at home
Kirk Cousins and the Redskins’ offense simply could not get it going on Monday night at home in a critical game, fighting for their playoff lives. Cousins’ most critical error came late in the first quarter, when he thought he could zip the ball down the seam to tight end Vernon Davis and instead it was picked off by safety Kurt Coleman and returned just outside the Redskins’ red zone. Cousins was also not helped out by his receivers, as they had five drops on the night, or the running game, as they only averaged 2.2 yards per carry
Top offensive grades:
OT Trent Williams, 80.1
OT Morgan Moses, 80.0
QB Kirk Cousins, 79.0
WR DeSean Jackson, 73.3
RB Rob Kelley, 68.4
Impressive performances from the tackle positions not enough for offense
On a night where not much was clicking for the Redskins’ offense, there was one silver lining — the play by the offensive tackles. Morgan Moses had one of his best games of the season at RT. He finished the game with a solid run-blocking grade of 75.2, and only allowed one pressure all night. LT Trent Williams had another solid performance in his second game off suspension. He allowed three hurries, but still finished with a pass-blocking grade of 82.7 because he was not beaten too quickly on any of them. The Redskins’ interior line struggled, however, and as a team the Redskins only managed 29 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Top defensive grades:
CB Quinton Dunbar, 85.8
DI Chris I. Baker, 83.6
DI Cullen Jenkins, 80.6
CB Bashaud Breeland, 80.1
LB Mason Foster, 75.4
Spaight picked on early and often in his first start of the season
While the passing attack of the Panthers gained over 300 yards, this was not all on the cornerback group, which combined to give up a total of 77 yards. However, the Panthers routinely took advantage of linebacker Martrell Spaight during his first start in coverage, where he gave up six catches on seven targets for 82 yards, as he struggled with all the looks the Panthers run and how they attack the middle of the field.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart
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