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Broncos 3rd and long: Wide left us with a win

The first installment of my 3rd and long series takes a look at the success the Carolina Panthers had on third down against the Denver Broncos.

I’m continuing my 3rd and long series that I am began way back in 2012 (yikes). I’ll again be looking at two big statistical indicators for our defensive performance: how our defense does against the run on 1st and 10 and how our defense does overall when we get opposing offenses in 3rd and long (7 or more needed to gain).

Performance vs rush on 1st and 10

I’m not going to lie. We got gouged last night on first down runs. Admittedly, the Panthers are a really good running team with three massive players who carry the ball, but in the Super Bowl we shut down their running game on first down (for the most part). Part of that was the injury to Jonathan Stewart (who is a beast) during the first quarter of SB50, but the other part is that Vance Walker and Malik Jackson were both very good at stuffing the run. The Panthers ran the ball 18 times for 66 yards on first down in SB50 - 3.7 ypc. Last night the were able to rack up 108 yards on 20 first down carries - 5.4 ypc - with runs for 20 (Ginn end around) and 12 yards included there.

Additionally, in Super Bowl 50 our defense was able to get one tackle for loss (TFL) on a first down run and three stops for no gain. We had no TFLs on first down runs last night and only one stop for no gain. Last night proved that the front 7 we had in SB50 was better than the front 7 we currently have. Hopefully our front 7 improves as the year progresses, but we have to remember that our team was susceptible to the running game during the first part of last season as well allowing five or our first nine opponents to run for more than 100 yards. They will improve, but it will take some time.

Performance on 3rd and Long

Overall the Panthers were 9/15 on 3rd down (60%) with four of those conversion coming on 3rd and long.

Situation Play Result
3-9-CAR 47 1Q (9:35) (Shotgun) C.Newton pass deep middle to K.Benjamin to DEN 36 for 17 yards (J.Simmons). conversion by catch
3-10-DEN 35 2Q (5:55) (Shotgun) C.Newton pass short left to G.Olsen pushed ob at DEN 22 for 13 yards (B.Roby). conversion by catch
3-7-DEN 19 2Q (4:00) (Shotgun) C.Newton pass short right to G.Olsen to DEN 4 for 15 yards (T.Ward) conversion by catch
3-30-CAR 19 3Q (4:52) (Shotgun) C.Newton pass short middle to K.Benjamin to CAR 32 for 13 yards (B.Roby). catch but short
3-15-CAR 35 4Q (2:15) (Shotgun) C.Newton sacked at CAR 29 for -6 yards (V.Miller). sack
3-10-CAR 47 4Q (:29) (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Newton pass short middle to K.Benjamin to DEN 37 for 16 yards (K.Webster). conversion by catch

They were able to convert on their first three 3rd and long situations - two of which occurred on that ridiculously long 18-play drive that consumed most of the 2nd quarter. The nine third down conversions is the most that we have allowed since the game against the Colts last season where we allowed 12 (of 20) third downs to be converted. Overall our defensive performance on 3rd down in general and on 3rd and long was the worst that we have seen since our victory over the Chiefs in Denver in 2014 where they converted 14 of 19 overall and 7 of 9 on 3rd and long.