PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus
Cam Newton looked shaky early, with only 36 yards passing with 1 minute, 22 seconds to go in the first half. Still, there were numerous dropped passes, for with every acrobatic grab, there were seemingly butterfingers to follow. The strip-sack of Newton in the first quarter and fumble recovery in the end zone proved to be the difference.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus
Jonathan Stewart injured a foot early and became a non-factor, even as his over-the-pile leap for a touchdown reminded many of Marcus Allen. Mike Tolbert had a costly fumble, and against the Broncos’ stout front, the run game could not gain traction.
PASSING DEFENSE: C
RUSHING DEFENSE: C-minus
The Panthers could not stop C.J. Anderson when it mattered most, with Anderson breaking off a key 34-yard run in the first half. Anderson finished with 90 yards rushing on 23 carries.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
Place-kicker Graham Gano missed a 44-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter that would have pulled the Panthers within three points. It appeared as though Aqib Talib was in the neutral zone on the snap, though no flag was thrown.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera punted while trailing by two touchdowns with two minutes to play and his team’s back in the end zone. Strange? The Panthers simply had no answer for the Denver defense in general, Von Miller in particular.