Panthers edge Bills for first home win

Michael Christopher
Sports Editor

By Michael Christopher
CHARLOTTE— A win is a win, even if it appears ugly.
The Carolina offense was anemic and the defense bent but didn’t break when pressured to the brink as the Panthers moved to 2-0 on the season.
The Bills were held to 176 total yards and never had great field position on any of their offensive drives. They started at their own 25, 10, 2, 25 and 21, 14, 43, 36 and 25.
Buffalo had a fourth-and-11 on the Panthers 33 with 14 seconds to play. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor overthrew receiver Zay Jones and Carolina escaped with a 9-3 victory.
“We just try to execute on defense. Like I said, our coaches did a great job,” Carolina Panthers corner Captain Munnerlyn said. “We just executed. We played fast and made plays.”
The victory marked the first time the Panthers had beaten the Bills at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina is now 2-5 against Buffalo all time.
Taylor finished with 107 yards passing on 17 of 25. He also rushed for 55 yards on eight attempts. The Bills rushing game was bottled up for 69 yards on 23 attempts. LeSean McCoy finished with nine yards rushing on 12 attempts and former Panther, Mike Tolbert, had three carries for five yards.
Despite having solid field position on several offensive drives, penalties hurt the Panthers and they had to settle for two Graham Gano field goals to take a 6-0 halftime lead.
Gano connected on a 34-yard in the first quarter and a 28-yarder in the second quarter.
Steven Hauschka connected on a 45-yard field goal with 4:18 to play to make it a one-score game. That’s as close as the Bills would get until the final minute.
Carolina’s offense showed the ability to move the ball but didn’t find the end zone for a touchdown. Kelvin Benjamin led the Panthers receiving with 77 yards on six catches. Devin Funchess had 68 yards on four catches. Benjamin did not give an on-camera postgame interview but did say he was frustrated with the offense.
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen caught just one pass for 10 yards. Olsen came out in the second half on crutches and wearing a walking boot on the foot. The team announced he would not return to the game, which the Panthers won 9-3.
“Something bad just happened,” he said. “Obviously it sucks but I’ve been very lucky in my career not be injured a lot. So it’s something that will take a little time but it’s just part of the game.”
Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton completed 20 of 32 passing for 228 yards with no TDs and zero interceptions.
Newton went down with 30 seconds in the third quarter on the Bills sixth sack of the game.
“It’s not good. Obviously, as a left tackle, you’re going to have plays where you’re going to get beat. You can’t dwell on them otherwise those guys can smell that and come after that,” Panthers tackle Ryan Kahlil said. “You’ve got to have a short-term memory so you have to get over it. It bothers me to give up a sack at all but it’s something I can watch. I feel like since I’ve started Cam’s gotten better and I’ll get better. Some things I can obviously fix.”
Several of Newton’s throws were high, too high. Twice Newton threw high for possible touchdowns. Russell Shepard had to leap up for an incomplete pass and late in the fourth Newton overthrew rookie Christian McCaffrey for a possible score.
The Panthers, on the other hand, hurt themselves offensively with missed opportunities and penalties. The offensive line allowed six sacks on Newton, one which took him out the game momentarily and had several penalties which pushed back promising field position.
“It’s a team. We work off each other. Today, I’ve got to give it to the Buffalo defense they came out and did their job too. Much respect to a guy like Sean McDermott, who was once here,” Panthers defensive end Mario Addison said. “We knew what he was going to do. We knew he was going to throw the kitchen sink at us. We knew he was going to bring everybody. He had people on the sideline coming in and rushing. He was coming in trying to get the quarterback. We knew it was going to be crazy with him mixing it a lot and we were trying to pick up our offensive line and Cam a lot so it was tough. Then we had to pick up for the offense. It’s a team and we pick up each other when we need it.”