Carolina’s defensive performance against Chicago on Sunday was one of the best in franchise history.
Jackson also is the only rookie in National Football League history with two 75-yard defensive touchdowns in a season. For the second game in a row, it staked Trubisky and the offense to crucial points, with Eddie Jackson returning two turnovers deep in Bears territory for touchdowns. Newton would get the Panthers to the Chicago 24 later in the drive, only to see a backward pass to Curtis Samuel go badly awry.
“I probably took my eyes off of it too early because I was anxious about the defence”, Samuel said.
Today was a breakout game for Jackson who has started every game as a rookie but failed to make the impact plays he was known for in college.
The issue was magnified early in the third quarter when Newton couldn’t get a yard to keep an impressive drive alive. In the second quarter, Prince Amukamara deflected a pass to Kelvin Benjamin high in the air and Jackson corralled it and went 76 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Jackson didn’t stop there.
“We were very methodical”, coach Ron Rivera said.
“He’s got to watch his back”, defensive end Jonathan Bullard said of Newton. “I’ve got to do a better job of finding that ball and knocking it down”.
The longer the defense is on the field, the better for the Bears.
Even with the injuries, Carolina still had some success in the middle of the field.
“I thought I played really poor”, Trubisky said.
“It was a pass play that was going to bring the running back out of the flat and try to sprint and throw it to him, but I was there”, Peppers said. “Those are some things you wish you could have back”.
Newton had another interception in the second half when he tried to force a throw to McCaffrey and was picked off by linebacker Danny Trevathan. Sunday, he scored both of Chicago’s touchdowns and showed exactly the kind of instincts that Pace and head coach John Fox wanted.
When Cam Newton arrived to the visitors interview room more than 80 minutes after the Panthers’ 17-3 defeat to the Bears, he was understandably dejected, if not understandably tardy.
The Panthers have played in one full game without a penalty enforced in franchise history, in a 31-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers on December 14, 1997. “I give a lot of props to Vernon (for) double-teaming that guard out there and (me) just sticking a hand up”.
Against Chicago, Carolina only averaged 4.2 yards per play, needed 30 rushes to break 100 yards and let Newton be sacked five times. They need to step it up big time. “Sorry, I can’t answer that question”, Newton said when asked if Shula is calling enough shots downfield.
“We got each other’s back, offense and defense”, said LB David Mayo, filling in for an injured Luke Kuechly.
“(Trubisky) overthrew the ball, overthrew his receiver”, Bradberry said.