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Panthers-Colts Postgame Notes

Posted Nov 27, 2011

The Series: With the 27-19 victory, the Panthers lead the all-time series 4-1 and have won all three meetings against the Colts at Indianapolis.

For Starters: Running back Jonathan Stewart made his first start of the season as the Panthers began the game in an alignment that featured both DeAngelo Williams and Stewart in the backfield. Wide receiver Brandon LaFell replaced Legedu Naanee, who was limited by an ankle injury. LaFell responded by pacing Carolina with five receptions for 46 yards.

Defensively, Jordan Senn started for the second consecutive game after making his first career start last week at Detroit (11/20/11). He opened at weakside linebacker in place of Omar Gaither, who was inactive with a knee injury, and collected a career-high 10 tackles to tie linebacker James Anderson for the team lead. Against the Lions, Senn started at middle linebacker for an injured Dan Connor, who returned to the lineup at Indianapolis.



Smith 1,000-Yard Man: Wide receiver Steve Smith tallied a team-high 68 yards on three catches to reach the 1,000-yard receiving plateau for the sixth time in his 11-year career. He previously racked up 1,110 yards in 2003, a team-record 1,563 in 2005, 1,166 in 2006, 1,002 in 2007 and 1,421 in 2008.

Smith, who entered the game ranked second in the NFL in receiving yards, leads the Panthers with 59 receptions for 1,060 yards and five touchdowns this season.

A four-time Pro Bowl selection, he ranks first in team history with 65 total touchdowns (57 receiving, 6 return, 2 rush), 57 receiving touchdowns, 9,944 receiving yards, 14.65 receiving average, and 37 games with 100 or more receiving yards. Smith stands second with 679 receptions (needs 18 catches to pass Muhsin Muhammad for the most in team history) and 392 points scored.

Newton By Air: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton completed 20-of-27 passes for 208 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions to compile a 95.9 quarterback rating. He completed 74.1 percent of his passes - the second highest completion percentage by a rookie quarterback in team history, bettered only by Newton's 78.3 percent mark versus Washington (10/23/11).

The starter in all 11 games, Newton has completed 239-of-392 passes for 3,093 yards and 12 touchdowns with 14 interceptions to post an 81.1 quarterback rating. The 3,093 passing yards are the most in team history by a rookie quarterback, surpassing the 2,931 yards by Chris Weinke in 2001.

Newton has passed for 300 or more yards in three games, producing three of the top four single-game passing totals in team history. He threw a touchdown in each of the first five games - the longest streak by a rookie quarterback in team history - bettering Weinke's four consecutive games with a touchdown pass in 2001.

Newton By Ground: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton posted 53 rushing yards and one touchdown on nine attempts. He scored on a 14-yard draw out of the shotgun formation on a third-down play early in the second quarter. Newton has rushed for 464 yards and a team-leading 10 touchdowns on 86 carries this season.

His 10 rushing touchdowns are the most by a rookie quarterback and tie for the third most by a quarterback in a season since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, previously accomplished by Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings in 2002. Steve Grogan of the New England Patriots holds the NFL record with 12 in 1976.

Newton's 10 rushing touchdowns equal the third most in Carolina history, previously accomplished twice - most recently Jonathan Stewart in 2009. Additionally, his rushing yardage and rushing touchdown totals are the most in a season by a Panthers quarterback, eclipsing the previous highs of 128 yards and six touchdowns by Chris Weinke in 2001.

Double Trouble: Running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams combined to rush for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 25 attempts. Stewart led the way with 70 yards on 10 carries and added three receptions for 12 yards. He ranks third on the team with 442 yards and two touchdowns on 93 attempts and is tied for third with a career-high 36 catches for 341 yards. Williams compiled 69 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns, scoring on runs of 25 yards in the third quarter and two yards in the fourth quarter. He leads the Panthers with 540 yards and three touchdowns on 108 attempts this season.



Offensive Line Paves The Way: Behind an offensive line featuring Jordan Gross at left tackle, Travelle Wharton at left guard, Ryan Kalil at center, Geoff Hangartner at right guard and Byron Bell at right tackle, the Panthers accumulated a season-high 201 yards rushing on 35 attempts - an average of 5.7 yards per carry - with two touchdowns.

The front five has helped Carolina total more than 100 yards rushing in nine consecutive games, also exceeding 100 yards on the ground with 107 versus Jacksonville (9/25/11), 169 at Chicago (10/2/11), 162 versus New Orleans (10/9/11), 139 at Atlanta (10/16/11), 175 versus Washington (10/23/11), 140 versus Minnesota (10/30/11), 113 versus Tennessee (11/13/11), and 137 at Detroit (11/20/11). The Panthers, who began the game ranked seventh in the NFL in rushing and third in rushing yards per attempt, are averaging 135.3 yards per game and 5.1 yards per attempt.

Streaking: Tight end Jeremy Shockey and wide receiver Steve Smith extended their consecutive game streaks with a catch. Shockey finished with three receptions for 41 yards and has caught a pass in all 131 regular season games he has played. Smith, meanwhile, has made a catch in 70 consecutive games, matching the longest streak in team history - previously accomplished by Wesley Walls from 1996-2001. Smith previously notched a reception in 68 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in team history, from 2002-06.



Dynamic Duo: Tight ends Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey combined for six receptions and 65 yards. Through 11 games, Olsen ranks second on the team with 40 catches for 451 yards and four touchdowns, and Shockey is fifth with 27 receptions for 352 yards and one touchdown. Along with Richie Brockel, they have caught 68 passes for 808 yards and five touchdowns. That represents the second most productive season by a set of Panthers tight ends in team history behind the 1999 group that tallied 69 receptions, 873 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

In The Zone: The Panthers posted a 100 percent efficiency rating in the red zone, scoring two touchdowns on two trips inside the Colts' 20-yard line. Carolina has been successful on 32-of-40 red zone opportunities, scoring 20 touchdowns and 12 field goals for an 80 percent conversion rate and 50 percent touchdown conversion rate, this season.

Big Plays, Long Drives: The Panthers continued their ability to create big plays, gains of 20 or more yards. Entering the game tied for first in the NFL with 58 such plays this season, Carolina produced five more against Indianapolis on four passes and a 25-yard touchdown run by running back DeAngelo Williams. The Panthers have now generated 63 big plays - seven of which have been touchdowns - on 51 passes and 12 runs.

Carolina manufactured an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that was capped by a two-yard run by running back DeAngelo Williams. It marked the Panthers' 15th touchdown drive of 80 or more yards this season. Carolina began the game with the third-most touchdown drives of 80-plus yards in the NFL this year.

Ball Control: The Panthers maintained possession for a season-high 36:17, possessing the ball almost 14 minutes longer than the Colts. Carolina held the ball for 19:22 in the first half, including 11:33 in the first quarter and 7:49 in the second quarter, and 16:55 in the second half, including 8:08 in the third quarter and 8:47 in the fourth quarter.

Third-Down Efficiency: The Panthers remained on the field by converting on third down and preventing the Colts from doing the same. Carolina produced a 50 percent third-down efficiency rating, making six-of-12 third downs. That success on third down helped the Panthers gain 22 first downs - 13 rushing and nine passing.

The 13 rushing first downs equal the third most in team history - previously achieved four times, most recently at St. Louis (9/9/07). The team record for rushing first downs is 16 at Tampa Bay (10/18/09).

Carolina allowed Indianapolis to convert only one-of-nine third-down chances for an 11.1 percent conversion rate. That represents the defense's best third-down percentage this season, bettering a 21.4 percent mark versus Jacksonville (9/25/11).

Takeaway/Giveaway: Carolina forced two turnovers on interceptions by cornerback Chris Gamble and safety Sherrod Martin. The Panthers turned it over once on a fumble to finish with a plus-one turnover ratio. The two takeaways resulted in no points for Carolina, and the one giveaway led to three points for Indianapolis. The Panthers have a negative-four turnover ratio this season, compiling a 3-0 record when having a positive turnover margin, an 0-5 record when being even in turnover margin, and an 0-3 record when having a negative turnover margin.



Gamble and Martin lead the team with three interceptions apiece this season. Gamble, who ranks as the Panthers' all-time leader with 27 interceptions, has led or tied for the team lead in interceptions in five of his seven seasons with Carolina since being selected in the first round in 2004. Martin has equaled his career high of three picks, previously accomplished as a rookie in 2009.

Sakrete Sacks: The Panthers collected two sacks against Indianapolis. Charles Godfrey dropped Indianapolis quarterback Curtis Painter for a seven-yard loss on a safety blitz in the first quarter. Defensive end Charles Johnson and defensive tackle Andre Neblett shared a two-yard sack of Painter in the second quarter. Johnson leads the team with 7.5 sacks this season.

During the 2011 season, Sakrete, a leader in concrete and concrete-related products, is donating $100 to the BVC Playground Build for every sack Carolina records. Through 11 games, the Panthers have 21 sacks, raising $2,100.

The Specialists: Kicker Olindo Mare connected on all three of his extra-point chances and two-of-three field goal attempts - converting from 40 and 41 yards. He had a 45-yard attempt blocked by Colts defensive end Jamaal Anderson on the last play of the first half. It was the second field goal Mare has had blocked this season, previously accomplished by Julius Peppers for Chicago (10/2/11).

He has been successful on 24-of-25 extra point opportunities and 18-of-23 field goal attempts for a team-leading 78 points this season. Mare ranks 15th in NFL history with 346 made field goals and 16th with 1,498 points scored.

Mare reached the end zone on all six of his kickoffs with six touchbacks, helping limit the Colts to an average kickoff drive start of the 20-yard line. He has placed 48-of-56 kickoffs in the end zone with 38 touchbacks this season. Since 1997, Mare leads the NFL with 276 touchbacks.

Punter Jason Baker generated a gross average of 45.3 yards and net average of 46.0 yards with two inside the 20, no touchbacks and long of 52 yards on four punts. His gross average increased to 41.8 yards and his net average improved to 33.7 yards with 15 punts inside the 20, four touchbacks and long of 56 yards this season.

Baker is the Panthers' all-time leader with 550 punts and 165 punts inside the 20. He ranks second with a 43.94-yard gross punting average behind Todd Sauerbrun's 45.54 average.



Rookie Kealoha Pilares returned two kickoffs for 100 yards with a long of 76 yards to set up a 41-yard field goal by Mare in the fourth quarter. He is averaging 29.3 yards with a 101-yard touchdown on 15 returns this season.

Wide receiver Armanti Edwards matched his career high of four punt returns for 23 yards, including a career-long 17-yarder. He previously brought back four punts on two occasions, most recently versus Jacksonville (9/25/11). Edwards bettered his career long of a 14-yard return, previously accomplished twice - most recently at Detroit (11/20/11). He is averaging 6.0 yards on 25 returns with seven fair catches this year.

Claw Marks: The Panthers ended their franchise-record 12-game road losing streak with the victory. Carolina last won away from home in the final road game of the 2009 season, earning a 41-9 win at the New York Giants (12/27/09).

Inactives: The following seven players were inactive for the Panthers: wide receiver Darvin Adams, quarterback Jimmy Clausen, linebacker Omar Gaither, cornerback Brandon Hogan, defensive tackle Frank Kearse, linebacker Jason Phillips, and tackle Lee Ziemba.