|GAME NOTES: Thomas Williams had help in making decisive final play|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Sunday, 25 September 2011 18:58|
CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Williams had plenty of confidence to make one big play at the end of Sunday’s game.|
Well, because he was prepared.
Williams, a backup linebacker who knocked away Blaine Gabbert’s pass as time expired to secure Carolina’s first win of the season, said he got some important advice Saturday night from two helpful teammates.
Williams said injured linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis stopped by the team hotel that night to give the team’s young linebackers some tips heading into Sunday’s game. That carried over from earlier in the week when both spent extensive time with Williams and others bringing them up to speed.
“They talked to me about things that I should look at, things that I should work on,” Williams said. “My film study, they were giving me tips and clues. These guys were breaking film down and telling me things to look for like showing blitz when you’re in a zone and just playing that mental chess match. Those guys are tremendous leaders that I look up to and I’m lucky to be a part of their group.”
On the last play, Williams said things were so frantic he never looked up to see how much time was left on the clock and didn’t know it was over until his teammates started celebrating.
His job on the play was to drop back in coverage and prevent a touchdown pass, which he did when he dove and deflected the ball. Given how much trouble Carolina’s defenders had at times tackling, it might have been a good thing.
“You always want to play a chess match, like the art of war,” Williams said. “It’s just deception. Show one thing and do another. That’s what we did. I was just there to make a play.
“We just dropped back and everybody else was covered and they just threw the ball up and I was there lucky enough to make the play.”
Williams played mostly in nickel packages as Jason Williams stepped in to start for Davis.
TWO-POINT CONVERSION: Coach Ron Rivera made an interesting decision to go for a two-point conversion after Greg Olsen caught a 16-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers up 14-10.
It worked out well as Olsen hauled in a pass in the corner of the end zone to tack on two more.
“We wanted them to have to kick the extra point to have to beat us (in case they scored a touchdown),” Rivera said. “If we kick the extra point there and they score a touchdown, game over. If they score a touchdown, we can still block an extra point. That was the idea behind that.”
However, you have to wonder if the move might have backfired had the two-point conversion failed and the Jaguars scored a touchdown to go up 17-14. At that point, a Carolina field goal would only tie the game instead of win it.
PASSING UP FIELD GOALS: Speaking of field goals, Rivera passed up field goal attempts of 53 and 50 yards because of the field conditions. On a normal day, Rivera sends kicker Olindo Mare on the field, but with the field saturated he went with punter Jason Baker instead.
SELVIE’S MISTAKE: Here’s an example of why most NFL coaches wind up with gray hair before the rest of us.
The Panthers held the Jaguars without a first down on their first three possessions, but after the third possession defensive end George Selvie was called for a neutral zone infraction on a punt on fourth-and-4. The 5-yard penalty gave the Jaguars a first down. The Jaguars then picked up a few more first downs en route to a Josh Scobee field goal, helping change the momentum of the game.
GAMBLE GOES OUT: The Panthers are having a rough time with concussions this season.
Already without Charles Godfrey because of a concussion, the Panthers lost starting cornerback Chris Gamble late in the first half to a head injury and he did not return because he was feeling woozy.
He was replaced in the game by Darius Butler.
FEW BLITZES: Unlike the last two weeks, the Panthers didn’t see a lot of blitzes from the Jaguars which might be a sign that Cam Newton is starting to garner more respect around the league after throwing for 422 and 432 yards his first two games.
Newton wasn't sacked at all Sunday after being sacked eight times the first two weeks.
“They didn’t blitz hardly at all,” offensive tackle Jordan Gross said. “I think they felt pretty good about their rush. They had a good pass rush and we had our hands full. Cam (Newton) got out of a lot of trouble with his legs. It was good teamwork.”
BIG MONEY ATTACK: DE Charles Johnson now has a sack in each of first three games of the 2011 season and at least one in nine of his last 10 games for the Panthers.
“It feels good to get a win so I don’t really care about the sack,” Johnson said. “It’s just part of the game. It just gives people an opportunity to come in and step up. It was muddy out there; there were a lot of things going on but we stepped up and met the challenge.”
CHANGING JERSEYS: Some players changed jerseys and cleats at halftime, but Olsen said after the game it didn’t matter.
“When you went back out on the field for the third quarter you were soaked all over again,” he said.
STEWART EFFECTIVE: Jonathan Stewart was more effective than DeAngelo Williams on a rainy field, racking up 85 total yards on 13 touches to Williams’ 35 yards on 12 touches.
“I thought the backs played well,” Rivera said. “I thought (fullback) Jerome Felton as a lead blocker in a 21 personal was a solid. He was a guy that we brought in and has been gaining ground as our full back. I thought Stewart did a nice job, especially on the counter. He cut it back and there was a nice crease on the scoring drive. There were some really good things going on with our running backs.”
BY THE NUMBERS: The Jaguars fumbled the ball five times, but the Panthers couldn’t come up with any recoveries.
INACTIVES: QB Jimmy Clausen was inactive for Sunday’s game along with SS Charles Godfrey, LB Jason Phillips, T Lee Ziemba, WR Kealoha Pilares, and TE Ben Hartsock. Although Frank Kearse was down, the Panthers activated Ron Fields as their fourth defensive tackle.