Other than Thomas Davis’ spectacular leap for an interception , the Carolina Panthers struggled to recall many highlights from their latest win.
They still think it’s exactly what they needed if they want any hope of getting back to the Super Bowl.
Cam Newton persevered through five sacks to pass for 225 yards and a touchdown, and the Panthers’ defense shut down Los Angeles in a 13-10 victory over the slumping Rams on Sunday.
With two straight wins after a four-game skid, the Panthers (3-5) are showing signs of contention — at least on the defensive end. They held the Rams scoreless for three quarters and without a touchdown for 59 minutes, hanging on to claim a defense-dominated day at the Coliseum.
“We’re in a position right now where every win is pretty big for us,” said Greg Olsen, who scored Carolina’s only touchdown on a first-quarter reception.
“We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole, and the only way to really get ourselves out is to just climb out one (win) at a time,” he added. “We come out here (to the) West Coast against a team that we knew was pretty dynamic on defense, so to come away with a win was big for us.”
Graham Gano added two fourth-quarter field goals for the Panthers, whose offense managed just 244 yards against the Rams’ vaunted defense. Newton only shrugged.
“I’ve never heard of a pretty loss,” Newton said. “They’re very stingy, and we knew that coming in.”
Newton went 20 for 32 and took his share of big hits again after his complaints about the NFL’s commitment to player safety dominated headlines last week. The star quarterback spoke with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to voice his worries.
Newton went down from a violent sack by Mark Barron in the third quarter, and he was downed for two important sacks by star defensive lineman Aaron Donald. The star QB saw nothing worth complaining about afterward.
“Not worried about that,” Newton said when asked if the referees had done a good job keeping quarterbacks safe. “Just trying to find ways to win football games.”
In their franchise’s first game in Los Angeles, the Panthers found a way with defense. After Olsen scored Carolina’s only touchdown on a 9-yard catch in the first quarter, coach Ron Rivera’s group kept the Rams off the scoreboard until the final 8:01, and Los Angeles’ rally fell well short.
“That’s my kind of football,” Rivera said. “I really like the style we’re playing.”
Case Keenum passed for 296 yards for the Rams (3-5), who have lost four straight after a strong start to their homecoming season. Los Angeles’ scoreless streak reached 102 minutes, 12 seconds before Greg Zuerlein’s 25-yard field goal.
Kenny Britt then made a 10-yard touchdown catch with 34 seconds to play, but Zuerlein curiously quick-kicked the kickoff far down the field, essentially ending the game.
“Enough is enough,” Rams guard Rodger Saffold said. “We know we have to score touchdowns. The defense is out there playing a great game.”
The Coliseum crowd booed the Rams’ offense repeatedly and chanted “We want Goff!” during the first half of another dispiriting offensive performance in the Rams’ return from their bye week. No. 1 pick Jared Goff remained on the bench even after Keenum threw his eighth interception in four games to Davis, killing a solid drive in the second half.
The Rams finally got moving in the fourth, but Lance Kendricks dropped a sure touchdown pass from Keenum at the goal line on third down, forcing a field goal.
Keenum went 27 for 46 for the Rams, who hadn’t scored a touchdown in 115 minutes, 41 seconds before Britt’s grab.
Todd Gurley had 48 yards in another quiet game, although he broke his longest run of the season for 18 yards out of the wildcat in the first half. Last season’s offensive rookie of the year watched the Rams’ final series from the sideline while Benny Cunningham played.
Rams CB Trumaine Johnson returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sprained ankle. … Rams DB Lamarcus Joyner left in the first half with an oblique muscle injury, but returned in the second half. … Carolina S Colin Jones was ruled out with a concussion early in the second half.
Panthers: Host Chiefs on Sunday.
Rams: At Jets on Sunday.