As someone who has been following the Panthers for years, their 4th quarter 17 point comeback against the defending champion Eagles was nothing short of amazing. Cam Newton showed MVP-like poise and leadership – guiding the offense to 21 unanswered points. The defense shook-off a relatively rough outing – stalling a Carson Wentz led offense that had their way with them in the first three quarters. It was a beautiful show of resiliency on both sides of the ball. But with all of that, it was a pass interference penalty committed by James Bradberry that saved the game for the Carolina Panthers.
I think Bradberry himself would admit that he didn’t play his best football Sunday. Eagles’ receiver Alshon Jeffrey nearly had a 100 yard receiving day against him, but the three year vet made two plays that would be instrumental to Carolina’s win. The first play was a Wentz to Jeffrey pass break-up on 3rd and 10 with 2:28 remaining that would force the Eagles to punt – leading to the offensive possession that would put Carolina up for good. The second was the play that saved the game.
You’d never think getting beaten and having to commit a penalty to recover would be considered heroic. The Panthers were up 21-17 and Carson Wentz was leading his offense downfield for what they hoped would be a game-winning drive…and it would’ve been. With the ball on their own 30 yard line and 1:17 remaining in the 4th, Wentz threw a deep ball on 1st and 10 to Alshon Jeffrey, who like several times before, had Bradberry beaten in the secondary. There was no safety help over the top and Carson had thrown the ideal spiral. It was the perfect call and perfect execution. It was a touchdown…except it wasn’t. Knowing all of this, Bradberry pulled Jeffrey down – making a conscious decision to eat the penalty, but save the touchdown.
Alshon Jeffery burns James Bradberry and draws a 48-yard penalty pic.twitter.com/wM7g0CWVTU
— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) October 21, 2018
The rest was history. Sure the Eagles had 1st and 10 at the Panthers 38, but they needed a touchdown and the Panthers defense made sure that didn’t happen. So while SuperCam was clearly the team’s MVP, it was Bradberry’s smart penalty that saved the game.