Sunday's game between the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers was slated to be a defensive battle, and the game lived up to its billing. The sides combined for just 401 yards and a single touchdown in a 10-9 Panthers victory.
Cam Newton faced the best defense he'd seen since the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, and it showed. The recently reliable quarterback looked fazed against the stout 49ers defense and finished with only 169 yards passing and a 52.7 passer rating. Newton was helped by Carolina's running game, which combined for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Ultimately the Panthers defense was the star. It held a dangerous offense to 151 yards, while the defensive line sacked Colin Kaepernick six times.
Kaepernick's game was a mixed bag. He threw the ball fairly well when given a chance, but the pressure the Panthers were bringing forced the 49ers to lean on their run game when passing failed. Kaepernick attempted 22 passes for 91 yards, while Frank Gore became the team's focal point.
Working against the league's second-ranked run defense was no problem for Gore, who ran for an efficient 82 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per attempt. San Francisco saw the same defensive success Carolina enjoyed, as its defense forced two turnovers and sacked Newton four times.
Losing tight end Vernon Davis to a concussion changed the game. Teams have succeeded in the past by attacking Carolina's linebackers in the passing game, using tight ends to put pressure on suspect safety play. This is where Atlanta found limited success in Week 9, and where San Francisco could have had success. Without Davis, the team was forced to lean too much on a suspect receiving corps and there wasn't a player who could step up and fill the void.
Fantasy studs and duds
A defensive game didn't offer a lot in the way of studs. Both Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick struggled and neither was a good start on Sunday.
Did they cover?
The San Francisco 49ers were 6-point favorites, according to OddsShark. They lost outright.
11/17: San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints
11/18: Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots