Panthers defense stands strong
It was a low-scoring affair in Houston on Sunday, where the Panthers took down the Texans 16 to 10 for Carolina's second-straight win.
The Texans' offense is full of big play threats like Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V, but the Panthers' defense rose to the occasion to keep them all in check.
A week after a dominating eight-sack performance against Arizona, the Panthers' D was at it again. The defense racked up another six sacks against the Texans, with defensive end Mario Addison accounting for two. Carolina's 14 combined sacks in back-to-back games is the second most in a two-game span in franchise history.
It seemed like Shaq Thompson was all over the field as the linebacker recorded a sack, a pass deflection and 12 total tackles.
In the secondary, cornerback James Bradberry shadowed Hopkins all over the field, holding one of the league's most explosive receivers to just five catches for 41 yards. With cornerback Donte Jackson sidelined, the unit turned to Javien Elliott and Ross Cockrell, and the duo answered the call.
Cockrell intercepted Hopkins on a trick play gone wrong and returned the pick 37 yards to help set up the Panthers' lone touchdown before halftime, and Elliott added a half sack. With that being said, the secondary wasn't solid every play, but a little luck will go a long way. On two separate occasions Texans wide receivers snuck behind the Panthers defense for big plays, but Watson misfired on what could have been two touchdowns.
But when it came down to the wire, the defense got the job done. Late in the fourth quarter defensive tackle Vernon Butler sacked Watson and jarred the ball loose, with safety Eric Reid diving on the ball and securing the victory.
CMC does it all once again
They say death and taxes are the only things guaranteed in life, but someone needs to add Christian McCaffrey gaining over 100 yards from scrimmage to that list.
For the third time this season, McCaffrey crossed the hundred-yard mark, and Sunday he did it in the first half. McCaffrey finished the day with 27 rushes for 93 yards and one touchdown, plus 10 receptions for another 86 yards.
No matter how impressive Allen's passing numbers may be, it's never a bad thing to have a safety net like McCaffrey – and he definitely came in handy against the Texans.
McCaffrey's most important play of the day came when he punched it in from four yards out for the Panthers only touchdown of the day, but his most impressive play came on a third down early in the fourth quarter. The running back tipped an out route back to himself before diving to make the catch and sliding headfirst across the first down line.
Opening drive woes continue
For the second straight week, quarterback Kyle Allen coughed up the ball on a strip-sack to end the Panthers' first possession. That marks the fourth time in as many games the Panthers have fallen victim to an opening drive turnover.
Like usual, the Panthers were moving the ball at will and nearing the red zone before the fumble.
Running back Christian McCaffrey shed would-be tacklers to turn a quick out route into an 18-yard scamper, and three plays later wide receiver Curtis Samuel drew a pass interference call for a 36-yard gain. Not a bad start.
The very next play Allen tried to avoid a sack but met Texans linebacker Brennan Scarlett who knocked the ball loose on the Houston 24-yard line.
Another week, another empty opening possession.
Allen's ball security
The troubles didn't stop there for Allen, though. In the second quarter Houston linebacker Whitney Mercilus rushed around the edge and blindsided Allen forcing the quarterback's second fumble of the day.
This could start to be a problem.
On Carolina's first possession of the second half, it was J.J. Watt's turn to cause trouble. The former Defensive Player of the Year beat left tackle Taylor Moton to meet Allen in the backfield for yet another strip-sack. Through two games this season, Allen has five fumbles, four of which have been lost.
This is a problem.
The Slye streak continues
After missing his first field goal attempt of the season, Joey Slye has been lights out.
The kicker added three more field goals against the Texans, connecting from 48, 55 and 26 yards out. Slye is now 10-of-11 on the year.
Slye's four field goals of 50 yards or more leads the league, and he's already closing in on the franchise record of six in a single season.