As the bulk of week 10 in the 2015 NFL season is behind us, we’re left with just two undefeated teams: The Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots, as the Cincinnati Bengals leave the elite group after losing to the Houston Texans of all teams.
The Panthers got the win out of the way earlier in the day, beating the Tennessee Titans 27-10, improving to 9-0. Cam Newton completed his first 11 passing attempts (finished with 21-of-26) and the Panthers shutout the Titans in the second half. Newton threw one touchdown pass and ran for another, pulling off a nice dancing celebration that annoyed the frustrated Titans defense, although they did their own dancing routine (Hotline Bling) earlier. Newton is now at 30 career games with a passing and rushing touchdown, just one behind the all-time leader in this category, Steve Young.
Despite Newton’s hot start, he once again showed he’s just as much about the finish, his strong suit this season. He completed four passes for 43 yards and rushed 6 times for 6 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter, posting a 96.3 fourth-quarter QBR. He has a career-best 84.4 QBR in the fourth quarter this season so far, and his 80.8% completion percentage in the game is the second best of his career. Targeting Greg Olsen and hitting him every time (8-for-8) really helped. The Panthers are the second team in NFL history to go 9-0 after finishing with a losing record in the previous season, following the Chiefs in 2013.
So while the Panthers remained dominant, the Patriots were pushed like never before this season by the New York Giants, winning 27-26 on a last second Stephen Gostkowski 54-yard field goal. Tom Brady had less than two minutes to put his team in field goal range and unsurprisingly, didn’t falter. The Giants were left lamenting Odell Beckham not holding on to a would-be touchdown (settled for a field goal) and the almost interception. The Patriots also had their what if moment as Julian Edelman return for a touchdown was stopped by his own player. He also left the game with what turned out to be a broken leg.
The Patriots are 9-0 as well, maybe getting a bit lucky this time, something you can’t say on any of their other wins, most of them games that were settled by the end of the third quarter. Tom Brady struggled (pressured all game long, threw an interception) and the running game never got going as well. But the Patriots, even on a less than perfect evening, are just an excellent football team, and it’s necessary to make almost no mistakes against them, especially in the final minutes with awful clock management from Tom Coughlin (who was pissed off at the press conference about dropping the win) and the points/interception that got away.
The Bengals were massive favorites to make it 9-0 for them as well, but it didn’t happen. T.J. Yates was the one who delivered the win while Brian Hoyer left early due to a concussion. The defense held the Bengals to only two field goals and Andy Dalton to one interception and just 197 passing yards, sacked three times during the game and hounded all night long by J.J. Watt, who finished with a sack and a few quarterback hits.