I never thought that such a thing can exist. How can there ever be a loss that is considered a good one? The question persists, "What makes a loss feel good?"
The answer to that question is that I have seen positives in this game I did not expect. At all. But it goes beyond that, and I'll list out some key reasons why I think this was a good loss. Brady looks like Brady
Brady looked back to his old self
After the Pittsburgh game, everyone was wondering if the offense was really back, moreso if tom Brady and his offense were back t the ways of efficient offensive production.
Contrary to the score, Brady essentially had his way against the #1 ranked defense in the NFL. He took what they gave him, and spread the ball around. Earlier in the year I would have expected that starting at the 20 yard line almost every possession would yield punts. But to drive down the field against this defense, doing his job to extend drives on 3rd down (I didn't look it up, but I bet our 3rd down percentage on offense was really good), it was a sight for sore eyes.
This was the Brady I have been waiting for. Not the one who forced passes into coverage, or even stare down one guy. You saw in the game how he was looking left and right, and take what was given to him, and exposing their zone coverage. He looked like the Brady of old here. Against the #1 ranked defense.
We ran the ball with effectiveness
Carolina has a top run defense. The best front 7 in the NFL. Yet we ran for nearly 100 yards on the ground, with both Blount and Ridley getting over 4 yards a carry. I have said this before, but though our pass protection has been spotty, our run blocking is very very good, and it showed in this game. There is something to this feeling where you can run it well against a top run defense. It was something I did not think we would be able to do, but we STAYED balanced and par of that was attacking their strength, and it not only worked but it has paid off. Just need to have Ridley practice for the rest f the week with a ball tucked under his arm. Push ups? Ball needs to be tucked under his arm. Catching drills? Do it with one ball under your arm. I don't know how that will actually work, but the coaching staff needs to still beat this into him. Can't lose a ball like that at the goal line. Definitely a huge play for Carolina.
Our own defense stopped the run
Outside of Cam Newton, here are the numbers for their running backs:
Tolbert: 6 for 17 yards
Williams: 6 for 14 yards
Stewartt: 4 for 10 yards
That is big success. I know they are not considered GREAT RBs, but Carolina does have a strong run game, even after this abysmal performance they are still ranked 10th in rushing. Though Newton accounts for much of the production, in between Tolbert and Williams they have over 400 more rushing yards than Newton.
In any-case though, despite that as a muddy point, those where still real good RBs, and some Panther fans thought we would not be able to stop them at all. And who could blame them? Our run defense has been spotty, but shown flashes to still be a fine run defense (helps with having Sopo in there). Our run defense stepped it up though, and this may be the last time we see a running QB at newton's level.
At least we lost to a non-conference opponent
I have said that I would prefer loosing to Carolina than to Denver, and I'm sure you know why at this point. Carolina is an NFC team, who even through a loss wouldn't really affect our seeding even close to the degree that loosing to Denver would. If we beat Denver, we have a very good chance of getting home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and if we lose we'll likely have the #2 seed. Loosing to Carolina affects our record, but in a small way compared o loosing to Denver.
OVERALL I thought we did well against the #1 defense. It was very unfortunate that our top 3 CBs were out during the most important defensive stand in the game, but with the way our offense performed, and the way we kept this game close and down to the wire, I came out feeling good, even with the loss.
This is the most important game of the year. I a worried because I don't know how Talib, Dennard, or Arrington feel by the time the game starts, and Denver has so many pro bowl weapons to use that can expose our LBs. Here; hoping to a solid win next Sunday.