Refocused: Carolina Panthers 31, Green Bay Packers 24
The Carolina Panthers are in the double digits in wins on the season, defeating the Packers 31-24 in Bank of America Stadium.
The return of QB Aaron Rodgers did not go as planned for the Packers, as the star signal caller went 26-of-45 for 290 yards, throwing three touchdowns but also three interceptions. RB Aaron Jones led the way on the ground with 47 yards on just three carries and WR Randall Cobb had seven receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown.
QB Cam Newton went 20-of-31 for 242 yards, throwing four touchdowns and committing no turnovers on the day. He also contributed 58 yards rushing, second on the team behind RB Christian McCaffrey’s 63 yards. McCaffrey scored a receiving touchdown and was second on the team in receiving with 73 yards, behind only TE Greg Olsen’s nine receptions for 116 yards. Olsen had a score of his own. With that, we give you our PFF-exclusive takeaways from the contest for each team.
Top 5 Grades:
Performances of note:
TE Greg Olsen, 86.9 overall grade
After having missed much of the year due to injury, Olsen entered Sunday with just four catches for 38 yards on the season. He looked back to his elite-receiving form against the Packers, as he led the Panthers with nine catches and 116 yards, along with hauling in his first touchdown of the year. He didn’t fare well as a run blocker, but more than made up for it with his receiving production.
QB Cam Newton, 81.2 overall grade
The Panthers’ offensive line did a pretty good job keeping pressure off Newton for the most part. He was kept clean on 77 percent of his dropbacks, and had an adjusted completion percentage of 76.0 along with three touchdowns on those plays. Newton added 62 rushing yards on 11 designed runs and scrambles, picking up five first downs, two of which game on third down.
S Colin Jones, 87.0 overall grade
Jones was all over the field and made a big impact whenever he was targeted in coverage. Jones took advantage of an an Aaron Rodgers under-throw up the seam, hauling in a key interception. Jones did a good job of eliminating run after the catch opportunities, allowing just five yards and two receptions on his four targets in coverage.
CB James Bradberry, 83.4 overall grade
Bradberry was solid throughout the game, as he was targeted 11 times and allowed just six catches for 61 yards and also notched an interception. He made the key play of the game late in the fourth quarter with the Packers driving to tie it up, punching out a Gernomo Allison reception with Mike Adams coming over to recover the fumble and seal the game.
Top 5 Grades:
Performances of note:
QB Aaron Rodgers, 70.4 overall grade
Rodgers was clearly rusty in his return, off for much of the game with his accuracy and comfort in the pocket. The Panthers had a clear plan to test Rodgers’ mental and physical state with various five-man blitzes and stunts, choosing to blitz him on 31 of his 53 dropbacks. It ended up paying dividends, with Rodgers throwing all three of his interceptions against the blitz.
TE Richard Rodgers, 75.8 overall grade
Rodgers was able to give the Packers their two biggest passing plays of the game; taking advantage of failed defensive miscommunication for a 24-yard touchdown down the seam in the fourth quarter, as well as securing a deep crosser for a 36-yard gain. In total Rodgers hauled in all four of his targets for 77 yards and the score.
DI Kenny Clark, 83.1 overall grade
Clark led the Packers defense with five defensive stops, with four coming against the run. He only had two total pressures, but came up with the lone sack on Cam Newton on the day. Clark did have a neutral zone infraction, one of four Packer defenders to get called for the penalty in the game.
LB Joe Thomas, 78.7 overall grade
Thomas played the run exceptionally well, finishing with four tackles for run stops. But it was offset to a degree with him allowing three catches for 33 yards when targeted three times in coverage, where he also had his lone missed tackle in the game.
PFF Game Ball: Colin Jones, S
*Grades subject to change