Vs. The Carolina Panthers came into this weeks game against the Oakland Raiders knowing that they had already won the NFC South Championship. A loss by the rival New Orleans Saints earlier in the week dropped the Saints to 11-4 on the season and the Panthers, coming in at 12-2, would hold the tie breaker with a better divisional record. Rather than rely on tie breakers, after getting the short end of the stick in the 2012 season, the Panthers knew they wanted to play to win and leave no doubt about the division title. The Panthers continued their tour of the AFC West as the Raiders came to town with the top ranked offense in the league. The Raiders held true to their top ranking in the passing game as Oakland QBs Kurt Warner and Terrell Pryor combined for nearly 500 yards in the air on the day. However, the Panther defense would intercept Warner three times, sack him 4 times, and hold the Raiders vaunted run game to a mere 34 yards in the game. The Panthers offense would find success both through the air and on the ground as they defeated the Raiders 54-35 to win their 6th straight game. 1st Quarter The Raiders won the toss and elected to receive the ball to start the game. On the Raiders 3rd play from scrimmage, Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble would jump in front of a Kurt Warner pass for the interception, to give the Panthers the ball at the Oakland 22 yard line. The Panthers would make quick work of the short field and scored on a 5 yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to tight end Greg Olsen to take an early 7-0 lead. After the Raiders were held to a punt on the next possession, the Panthers would add to their lead when halfback Elijah Mitchell broke away for a 76 yard touchdown run. The long touchdown run pushed the lead to 14-0 Carolina. Things would continue to be all Panthers in the 1st quarter as, on the next Oakland possession, 2nd year defensive end Kahlbuto Williams would snag a Warner pass in the flat and return it 27 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 Panthers lead. After a bomb to Oakland speedster Darius Heyward-Bey would move the Raiders into the redzone late in the 1st quarter, the Raiders were poised to get on the board to early in the 2nd quarter. 2nd Quarter The opening play of the 2nd quarter would see Raiders star halfback Darren McFadden punch the ball in from the 1 yard line to cut the Carolina lead to 21-7. The Panthers would answer right back as Newton dropped a beautiful bomb into the hands of rookie receiver Patrick Wilkerson for a 54 yard touchdown and a 28-7 lead. The rest of the 2nd quarter was all Raiders as they scored three straight touchdowns, while twice holding the Panthers to punts, to tie the game at 28-28 going into the half. Heyward-Bey would score a pair of touchdowns and Raiders fullback Marcel Reese would add a 6 yard touchdown reception as well. 3rd Quarter The Panthers would take the opening possession of the 2nd half and march right down field to score on a 2 yard Newton pass to halfback Taiwan Jones, to once again take the lead 35-28. Later in the 3rd, Panthers rookie cornerback Wesley Orange would get the Panthers 3rd interception of the day. On the very next play, Cam would break of a 67 yard touchdown run to push the Panthers lead to 42-28. The long run would cap off Cam's day, as backup quarterback Colt McCoy would check in on the next Panthers drive and finish the game under center for Carolina. 4th Quarter After a failed 3rd down pass, where McCoy missed a wide open Greg Little, the Panthers would add a 44 yard field goal early in the 4th quarter. 45-28 Carolina lead On the ensuing kickoff, the Raiders kick returner would signal for a fair catch, but with his foot just over the goal line, the ball would be ruled down at the 1 yard line. On the next play, McFadden would be caught in the back field for a safety to push the Carolina lead to 47-28. The Carolina backups would take advantage of the short field and McCoy would connect with 2nd year journeyman Demarcus Smelter on a 3rd down pass for a 10 yard touchdown to push the Carolina lead to 54-28 with just under 3 minutes to go in the game. Raiders backup quarterback Terrell Pryor would check into the game and connected with McFadden for a 54 yard touchdown pass to cut the Panthers lead to 54-35 with just under 2 minutes to play. The Raiders would recover the onside kick, but were stopped after failing to convert on 4th down. The Panthers would kneel on the ball to run out the clock and secure the victory. Upcoming The victory improves the Panthers record to 13-2 on the season and in addition to securing the NFC South Championship, they have also secured a first round bye in the upcoming playoffs. The Panthers will wrap up their AFC West tour as they travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on coach Javy and his Kansas City Chiefs. The Panthers fully expect the Chiefs to be looking for some payback, after a 23-0 shutout victory for Carolina in their season 1 visit to Kansas City. Carolina coach Luby was asked if his starters will play in KC, or be rested to avoid injury, and he was noncommittal either way. Something tells me they won't be able to keep the ultra competitive Newton off the field for an entire game, especially with an off week coming up. ---------------------------------------- GG Miki1369!