Carolina Panthers: Solid overall performance fuels win over Bengals

The Carolina Panthers looked stellar on both sides of the ball as they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 31-21, picking up their second-straight win.

The Carolina Panthers improved to 2-1 to start the 2018 season with a 31-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in Week 3. It’s still very early in the year, but this iteration of the Panthers seems to be a team that has a high-powered offense and a defense that can threaten to strike at any moment against any opponents.

Offensively, this was a game in which the Panthers showed off their powerful running game. Christian McCaffrey continued to wow in his second season as he earned his first 100-yaard game. And he did so in impressive fashion with 184 yards on 28 attempts.

That production on the ground goes with his two receptions for an additional 10 yards through the air. McCaffrey came into this season as the main talking point in an offense that has put a number of playmakers around Cam Newton. This game is a clear example of where that excitement comes from.

Newton continued to look good through three games as well. He completed 15-of-24 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns, one to Devin Funchess and the other to C.J. Anderson. Newton also had two rushing touchdowns to go with his 36 yards on 10 attempts. Seven different receivers caught passes on the day, with Funchess leading the way with four catches for 67 yards.

The Panthers defense terrorized Andy Dalton throughout this game. Even though he had 352 yards and two touchdowns, he also threw four interceptions, two of which went to Donte Jackson, a cornerback that the Panthers have his expectations for this season and beyond.

The Panthers also sacked Dalton twice to force him to lose 22 yards. Defensive end Efe Obada earned the game ball as he recorded both a sack and an interception in this game, which was also his first game on the active roster.

The Panthers were hit with a scary moment when Luke Kuechly retreated to the locker room. There have been many times when Panthers fans have seen Kuechly leave the field due to concussion issues, but according to multiple reports, the Pro-Bowler was experiencing cramps.

Shaq Thompson and Colin Jones led the defense with eight total tackles apiece. Jackson had seven tackles of his own. The other sack for the defense came at the hands of Mario Addison.

Next: NFL Week 3: Biggest winners and losers

The Panthers brought out a strong mix of offense which continues the narrative that offensive coordinator Norv Turner is looking for this group to be more efficient when they have the ball. They held on to possession for nearly 34 minutes in this win without any turnovers. Plus they were 3-of-3 on red zone attempts during this game.

This was the Panthers second win at home this season. They are set to welcome the New York Giants on Oct. 7, coming off of a bye week. This is a good start for the team as they look to earn back-to-back seasons above .500 for the first time in the history of the franchise.

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