|Panthers bounce back in big way, pounce on Titans for 30-20 win|
|Response a point of pride after ugly loss at 49ers|
|Published Sunday, November 3, 2019 6:50 pm|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|Carolina Panthers receiver D.J. Moore caught seven passes for 101 yards in their 30-20 win Sunday against Tennessee. Carolina improved to 5-3, two games behind New Orleans in the NFC South.|
The Carolina Panthers were not about to let one ugly loss define their season again.
They responded to last week’s 51-13 beatdown at San Francisco with a 30-20 home win against Tennessee Sunday. Carolina improved to 5-3, good for second in the NFC South behind 7-1 New Orleans. Last season they lost 52-21 at Pittsburgh in week 10, which launched them on a seven-game losing streak as part of a 7-9 season.
“You gotta be able to look yourself in the face and know what we have to do after this, because last year we didn’t do that,” cornerback Donte Jackson said. “Last year, we didn’t have that accountability to just start over. We could say it, but nobody really took action. I think this year it kind of hit a little bit different with all the tragedies we had to deal with this week.”
This victory was about more than washing the taste of defeat away. It’s about playing for their brothers. Linebacker Shaq Thompson’s mother, Patrice, died in October while the team was in London for the Tampa Bay game. Defensive end Mario Addison’s brother Gjamal Antonio Rodriqcus was shot and killed last week. Addison is with his family in Alabama as they buried his brother over the weekend.
“Family tragedies happen. We can only get closer,” Jackson said. “We played for our brother who couldn’t be with us today.”
Said Rivera, whose brother Mickey died just before the 2015 season: “I haven’t had a chance to talk with Mario, but I have had a couple of chances to talk with Shaq, and Shaq is just a solid young man, and it’s good to have him back.”
Said safety Tre Boston: “It’s big motivation. We all lost a brother. Long live Geeskii. I think for our guy Rio, this was important. For all of us. If our brother is not here, we’ve gotta own it up for our brother. We’ve gotta get this win for him. We hope he’s at home with the family watching, having fun. Hopefully we gave them a little spark of joy.”
Carolina’s secondary has proven more efficient since Boston returned over the summer via free agency. A member of the original Thieves Ave from the 2015 Super Bowl team, his influence and energy resonates throughout the unit. He had his first pick of the season against the Titans.
“When a guy like that makes a play, everybody and their mama wants to celebrate with him, because he celebrates with everybody and their mama,” said Jackson, who also had an interception against Tennessee. “He’ll celebrate with the punter, the holder, the long snapper—anything to get his teammates fired up. It’s good to see guys like Tre make big plays. We were telling him, ‘we can’t wait until you get yours, because it’s going to be a party.’ I think everybody on the team told him that, but it’s always fun when you can get the takeaways and get the [offensive] guys back on the field.”
Boston credits his leadership abilities to former Panthers safeties and close friends Roman Harper and Kurt Coleman.
“About 80 percent of my leadership is because of Roman Harper and Kurt Coleman,” Boston said. “I credit most of my success to those guys, because of the way they groomed me, the way they taught me each and every day how to handle myself like a professional on and off the field. They’re still my brothers and my uncle to this day—always talk to them after games, to this day, because I want to know what they’re thinking. I want to continue to gain these nutrients, so I can continue to feed my young guys—feed my group, feed my team, because they feed off my energy. I appreciate those guys, because they taught me how to hold it down.”
Referencing Thieves Ave is not uncommon for Boston, as the original group had 24 picks that season with Coleman’s seven leading the way. They have 12 this season; a team-high three from Jackson. How often does Boston reference the proficiency of the 2015 group?
“About as many times as Skittles in that bag,” said Jackson, who had a backpack filled with candy from Halloween. “He loves his thieves. We go with No. 33. He’s going to be our voice, and we’re going to rock with him.”
Said Boston: “I try to explain it to them each and every week, play with confidence.”
On the offensive side, running back Christian McCaffrey continues to tear opponents apart. He has 1,244 total yards from scrimmage this season. He joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown (1963) and Matt Forte (2011) as the only players to accumulate at least 150 scrimmage yards in their first eight games of season in league history. McCaffrey tallied 166 yards from scrimmage—146 rushing and two touchdowns, as well as 20 receiving—against the Titans.
However, Carolina continues to face uncertainty at quarterback. A Lisfranc fracture to his left foot has kept Cam Newton out since week three when Kyle Allen took over. Newton sought his third medical opinion last week, this time with Green Bay foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson assess the situation. The Panthers, who went 0-2 with Newton, are 5-1 with Allen.
“I’m not sure, other than he went up, saw Dr. Anderson, talked about what our doctors have been doing is exactly what he needs to do,” Rivera said. “It’s one of those things. It’s a gradual process. He’s still in the process. This is where he is. At the end of the day, until we’re told anything different from the doctors, we’ll continue just like what we’ve been doing.”
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