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Rapid Reactions: Panthers slip past Jets


What It Means

Down 20-18 early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers needed someone to make something happen. Wes Horton did. 

The fifth-year defensive end got to Jets quarterback Josh McCown in the backfield, forcing a fumble that was scooped up by linebacker Luke Kuechly. 34 yards later, Carolina regained the lead for good. 

In what was a sloppy and often strange Sunday in the Meadowlands, the Panthers escaped with a 35-27 win. All they needed was two offensive touchdowns, a defensive score and their first punt return touchdown since 2014. So it truly was a "team win." 

Now riding a four-game win streak, the 8-3 Panthers will next head to New Orleans. Depending on the results of the Saints' trip to the Rams late Sunday afternoon, Carolina will go into the Superdome a game behind or tied with New Orleans atop the NFC South. 

Health Watch

—Tight end Greg Olsen was suddenly pulled from the game in the third quarter. The Panthers announced he had a foot injury, but the good news is he didn't seriously aggravate the foot he broke in Week 2. According to head coach Ron Rivera, Olsen's surgically repaired foot was sore and trainers decided it was best to take him out of the game. While Olsen was in there, he played 21 of 42 snaps and caught one of his four targets. That was a 10-yard gain on Newton's first pass of the game. 

—Linebacker Luke Kuechly and safety Mike Adams were involved in a scary collision late in the third quarter, but they avoided any serious injuries. Adams missed one play before returning. 

—Linebacker Thomas Davis exited late in the fourth quarter with a strained thigh, but he said he'd be "all right."

—Center Ryan Kalil was active for the first time since Week 7, but he did not play. Tyler Larsen, who's been dealing with a foot injury, started and completed the game at center. 

Extra Points

—The Panthers are the eighth team outside of the AFC East to go 4-0 in a season against the division since reclassification in 2002. Of the previous seven teams to accomplish the feat, five advanced to their respective conference championship games and three won Super Bowls.

—It's interesting quarterback Cam Newton ditched the fingerless glove he practiced with all week. It's also worth wondering how much his sore thumb affected his 11-of-28 performance. 

—With cornerback Captain Munnerlyn back in Charlotte with an illness, safety Jairus Byrd played nickel back in passing situations. Jets quarterback Josh McCown immediately went after Byrd, hitting wideout Jermaine Kearse for a 17-yard gain on third-and-11 during the Jets' opening drive. 

—Carolina's offense came in leading the league in third-down efficiency but went 3-of-14 on third down against the Jets. 

—The Panthers improved to 8-0 when leading at the half and 6-0 when scoring any points off turnovers. 

—Defensive end Mario Addison picked up a sack early in third quarter to up his total to 15.5 over his past 18 games. It also tied Addison with Julius Peppers for this season's team lead at 7.5. A quarter later, Peppers regained the lead with his first sack since Week 8. 

—The Panthers took a 4-3 lead in their all-time series with the Jets, winning a meeting on the road for the first time. Carolina still hasn't beaten Pittsburgh, Denver and Cincinnati away from Bank of America Stadium.  

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