What it means: This isn’t going to suddenly turn around what has been a brutal season for Carolina. But it’s going to go a long way in stopping some of the bleeding. The Panthers snapped a five-game losing streak and improved their record to 2-6. An impressive win on the road might be a step toward coach Ron Rivera keeping his job after the season. But Rivera needs some more victories to solidify his status.
An Armanti Edwards sighting: Edwards made what was easily the biggest play in his time in Carolina. Leading 14-6 early in the fourth quarter with the ball deep in their own territory, the Panthers surprisingly didn’t get conservative. Instead, they took a shot downfield to the seldom-used Edwards. Cam Newton hit Edwards with a deep pass that ended up going for 82 yards and that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Newton.
What I liked: Carolina’s defense. This unit has drawn tons of criticism, and it generally has been deserved. But Carolina’s defense came through in a big way Sunday. It wasn’t a perfect day, as the Redskins finished with 346 yards of total offense. But the Panthers held the Redskins to two field goals until the Redskins scored a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. That's a pretty solid defensive performance. Also, defensive end Greg Hardy, who looked like a bust early in his career, continues to show signs he might be developing into a reliable pass-rusher.
Newton’s efficient day: The quarterback has been drawing a lot of criticism in recent weeks. But it’s hard to criticize Newton’s performance against the Redskins; he didn’t have a turnover while completing 13 of 23 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown and rushing eight times for 37 yards and a touchdown.
What’s next: The Panthers are home next Sunday with Denver. This will be a homecoming for Denver coach John Fox, who coached the Panthers from 2002 through 2010 and took the franchise to its only Super Bowl.