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Carolina Panthers

Panthers-Texans Postgame Notes

The Series: With the 28-13 victory, the Panthers earned their first-ever win against the Texans, who lead the all-time series 2-1. Carolina has defeated every NFL team except the Miami Dolphins during the franchise's 17-year history. The Panthers finished the season with a 3-1 mark against AFC South opponents and have an all-time record of 5-7 versus the AFC South.

For Starters: Left tackle Jordan Gross returned to the lineup after being inactive with an ankle injury versus Atlanta (12/11/11), and H-back Richie Brockel made his first NFL start. Brockel responded with one catch for four yards and scored his first career touchdown on a seven-yard, hidden-ball trick run just before halftime.

Tale Of The Tape: The game pitted Carolina's big-play offense against Houston's top-ranked defense. Below are the Panthers' statistics in some key categories compared to the Texans' averages.

Total Yards 316 274.9
Rushing Yards 166 91.5
Rushing Yards Per Attempt 4.9 4.1
Third Down Efficiency 64.3% 32.3%
Points 28 16.0


Newton By Air: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton completed 13-of-23 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions to compile a 105.2 quarterback rating. He threw touchdowns of 26 yards to wide receiver Steve Smith in the first quarter and nine yards to tight end Jeremy Shockey in the second quarter.

The starter in all 14 games, Newton has completed 283-of-475 passes for 3,722 yards - the second most by a rookie in NFL history - and 17 touchdowns with 16 interceptions to post an 82.3 quarterback rating. The NFL record for the most passing yards by a rookie is 3,739 by Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. The 3,722 passing yards and 17 touchdown passes are the most by a rookie in Panthers history, surpassing the 2,931 yards by Chris Weinke in 2001 and 14 touchdowns by Kerry Collins in 1995.

Attempts 590 - Sam Bradford, St. Louis (2010) 540 - Chris Weinke (2001) 475
Completions 354 - Sam Bradford, St. Louis (2010) 293 - Chris Weinke (2001) 283
Yards 3,739 - Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (1998) 3,722 - Cam Newton (2011) 3,722
Touchdowns 26 - Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (1998) 17 - Cam Newton (2011) 17

Newton By Ground: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton gained 55 rushing yards on seven attempts. Four of his carries resulted in first downs, and a fifth occurred in the victory formation on the final play of the game when he kneeled for a one-yard loss.

Newton has rushed for 609 yards and a team-leading 13 touchdowns - the second most in the NFL this season - on 114 carries. The 13 rushing touchdowns are the most by a quarterback in NFL history and the second most in franchise history, five behind the team record of 18 by DeAngelo Williams in 2008. Additionally, his rushing yardage and rushing touchdown totals are the most ever by a Panthers quarterback, eclipsing the previous highs of 128 yards and six touchdowns by Chris Weinke in 2001.

Newton's 30 combined touchdowns (17 passing, 13 rushing) are the most by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.

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 166 yards rushing - the most allowed by Houston this season - on 34 attempts for an average of 4.9 yards per carry and two touchdowns. The Texans, who were the league's fourth-rated rushing defense, entered the game allowing 91.5 yards per game and 4.1 yards per carry.

The front five has helped Carolina total more than 100 yards rushing in a franchise-record 12 consecutive games. The Panthers have exceeded 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), 137 at Detroit (11/20/11), a season-high 201 at Indianapolis (11/27/11), 163 at Tampa Bay (12/4/11) and 157 versus Atlanta (12/11/11) in addition to the 166 against Houston.

The Panthers, who began the game ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing and third in rushing yards per attempt, are averaging 141.0 yards per game and 5.1 yards per attempt.


Double Trouble: Running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined to rush for 104 yards and one touchdown on 26 attempts. Williams compiled a team-high 61 yards on 15 carries with a 24-yard touchdown run and leads the Panthers with 717 yards and five touchdowns on 141 attempts. Stewart carried 11 times for 43 yards and ranks third on the team with 594 yards and three touchdowns on 126 attempts.

Stewart Catches On: Running back Jonathan Stewart caught two passes for eight yards to set a team record for the most receiving yards in a season by a running back with 395. He bettered the previous high of 394 receiving yards by Nick Goings in 2004. Stewart is third on the Panthers with a career-high 44 receptions and needs one catch to tie Goings' team mark of 45 receptions in 2004 as the most in a season by a running back.

Smith On The Receiving End: Wide receiver Steve Smith, who started the game ranked first in the NFC and second in the NFL in receiving yards, posted a team-high five catches for 82 yards and one touchdown. He scored on a 26-yard reception in the first quarter.

In three career games against Houston, Smith has produced 18 catches for 323 yards (107.7 yards per game, 17.9 yards per reception) and five touchdowns. The last time he played a Reliant Stadium in Super Bowl XXXVIII (2/1/04), he made four grabs for 80 yards and one touchdown.


Smith leads the Panthers with 72 receptions for 1,299 yards and six touchdowns this year. This marks the sixth time in Smith's 11-year career that he has reached the 1,000-yard receiving plateau, previously racking 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.

A four-time Pro Bowl selection, he ranks first in team history with 66 total touchdowns (58 receiving, 6 return, 2 rush), 58 receiving touchdowns, 10,183 receiving yards, 14.72 receiving average, and 38 games with 100 or more receiving yards. Smith stands second with 692 receptions (needs five catches to pass Muhsin Muhammad for the most in team history) and 400 points scored.

Streaking: Tight end Jeremy Shockey and wide receiver Steve Smith extended their consecutive game streaks with a catch. Shockey finished with two receptions for 35 yards and one touchdown and has caught a pass in all 134 regular season games he has played. Smith, meanwhile, has made a catch in a team-record 73 consecutive games. He also produced a catch in 52 consecutive games from 2002-06, the third-longest streak in team history.


Dynamic Duo: Tight ends Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey combined for four receptions for 50 yards and one touchdown. Olsen ranks second on the team with 45 catches for 540 yards and five touchdowns, and Shockey is fifth with 32 receptions for 423 yards and three touchdowns. Along with Richie Brockel, they have combined to catch 79 passes for 972 yards and eight touchdowns. That represents the most productive season by a set of Panthers tight ends in team history in terms of receptions and yardage, ahead of the 1999 group that tallied 69 catches, 873 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

Big Plays, Long Drives: The Panthers continued their ability to create big plays, gains of 20 or more yards. Entering the game ranked first in the NFL with 76 such plays this season, Carolina produced four more against Houston on three passes and one run. The Panthers have now generated 80 big plays - 11 of which have been touchdowns - on 63 passes and 17 runs.

Carolina also began the game tied for third in the NFL with the most touchdown drives of 80-plus yards this year, churning out 18 such marches. The Panthers manufactured one more against the Texans: a seven-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter that was capped by a 24-yard run by running back DeAngelo Williams.

In The Zone: The Panthers posted a 100 percent efficiency rating in the red zone, scoring three touchdowns on three trips inside the Texans' 20-yard line. Carolina has been successful on 41-of-50 red zone opportunities, scoring 29 touchdowns and 12 field goals for an 82 percent conversion rate and 58 percent touchdown conversion rate, this season.

Third Down Efficiency: The Panthers produced a 64.3 percent third-down efficiency rating, converting nine-of-14 third downs. It marked the team's second-best third-down conversion rate this season behind a 66.7 percent mark at Atlanta (10/16/11).

Carolina allowed Houston to convert only two-of-nine third-down chances for a 22.2 percent conversion rate. That represents the defense's third-best third-down percentage this season behind an 11.1 percent mark at Indianapolis (11/27/11) and a 21.4 percent mark versus Jacksonville (9/25/11).

Takeaway/Giveaway: The Panthers equaled their season high with three takeaways, previously accomplished twice - most recently at Detroit (11/20/11). On the game's opening possession, linebacker Jordan Senn forced a fumble by Houston running back Arian Foster that was recovered by linebacker James Anderson at the Texans' 26-yard line. In the second quarter, Senn pilfered his first career interception off Houston quarterback T.J. Yates and returned it 21 yards into Texans' territory. Then in the fourth quarter, Anderson thwarted a Houston scoring opportunity by picking off his second pass this season in the end zone. The first two takeaways resulted in 14 points, and the third sealed the victory.


Carolina did not commit any giveaways to finish with a plus-three turnover ratio. It marked the Panthers' fourth game without any turnovers this year, previously accomplished versus Jacksonville (9/25/11), versus Washington (10/23/11) and at Tampa Bay (12/4/11) - all wins.

The Panthers have a negative-two turnover ratio this season, compiling a 5-0 record when having a positive turnover margin, an 0-5 record when being even in turnover margin, and an 0-4 record when having a negative turnover margin.

Sakrete Sacks: The Panthers collected two sacks against Houston. Defensive tackle Jason Shirley gathered his second sack in as many weeks when he dropped Texans quarterback T.J. Yates for a two-yard loss in the first quarter. He was signed to the Panthers' active roster from the practice squad on Dec. 7. Greg Hardy chased Yates out of bounds for a two-yard sack in fourth quarter and ranks second on team with four sacks.

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 14 games, the Panthers have 28 sacks, raising $2,800.

Claw Marks: In addition to Cam Newton, two other players took snaps at quarterback for Carolina against Houston. DeAngelo Williams lined up in the Wildcat formation in the second quarter and rushed for three yards after faking a handoff to wide receiver Steve Smith.

Wide receiver Armanti Edwards, who played quarterback in college at Appalachian State, lined up in the Mountaineer formation in the second quarter and threw an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Steve Smith. Edwards became the second player, along with wide receiver Legedu Naanee, other than Newton to attempt a pass for the Panthers this season. Edwards has completed both of his career pass attempts for 11 yards, both coming out of the Mountaineer formation.

Roster Moves: The Panthers placed guard Bryant Browning on injured reserve and signed center Jeff Byers from the practice squad. Browning suffered a wrist injury in practice on Friday. He played in one game, seeing brief action at right guard versus Atlanta (12/11/11), and was inactive at Tampa Bay (12/4/11) after being signed off of the practice squad (12/2/11). Browning becomes the 16th player to be placed on injured reserve this year, the most in team history.

Byers had been on Carolina's practice since the beginning of the season. As a rookie in 2010, he spent the first 14 games on Denver's practice squad before being signed to the Broncos' active roster but was inactive for the last two games.

Inactives: The following seven players were inactive for the Panthers: wide receiver Darvin Adams, wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu, cornerback Darius Butler, quarterback Jimmy Clausen, kicker Adi Kunalic, defensive end Eric Norwood, and linebacker Kion Wilson.

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