Defense doesn't waver

141221_wk16defense_inside.jpg

CHARLOTTE – With seven minutes left and the Panthers defense attempting to make a four-point lead over the Cleveland Browns hold up, cornerback James Bradberry made an interception he'll never forget.

Thirty-three yards later, Norman made a play he wishes he could forget.

Because the Panthers still held a four-point lead when the clocked ticked down to all zeroes, Norman can forget about it.

"Well, I was blessed that God and his angels allowed me to catch it, but the devils and the demons were allowed to steal my joy," said Norman, who followed a leaping interception with a lost fumble at the end of his zigzagging return. "But it's all good because at the end of the day, we got the W, and that's all that matters."

The same can be said of the one touchdown the defense allowed as well – one that was shocking in how simple it looked considering how hard the Panthers defense made life for Cleveland's offense otherwise.

With Carolina clinging to a 10-6 lead early in the fourth quarter, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer hit tight end Jordan Cameron in stride for an 81-yard touchdown that gave Cleveland its lone lead of the day.

"We blew a coverage," said safety Roman Harper, the Panther who came closest to touching Cameron on the play – and he wasn't even that close. "But other than that, we didn't give up anything."

Before Cameron's score, the defense had surrendered just 138 yards and five first downs, including two in the first two quarters. For the game, six of the Browns' 12 possession ended without them picking up a first down.

After Cameron's score, when the Browns were given new life on the "double turnover" featuring Norman, Cleveland did pick up two first downs to cross midfield. But when they punted three plays later, they were back at midfield thanks to a Thomas Davis tackle-for-loss and a Kawann Short sack.

Cleveland never got the ball back.

"Guys, obviously, were upset," linebacker Luke Kuechly said of Cameron's touchdown. "We had been playing great on defense, and it stinks when that happens. But we came back. We did a good job of forgetting about it and moving on."

Said Short: "It's how about well you bounce back from it. Can you stay focused on stay poised? That's what we did."

Related Content

Advertising