Cam Newton carries Panthers to ugly win over Texans

*The Houston Texans attempted to jumpstart their lineup with a switch at quarterback, but the result -- a 24-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers -- was less than ideal. *

Here's what we learned ...

  1. Cam Newton is going to have to do this on his own. Outside of a beautiful touch pass bomb to Ted Ginn Jr. and a few fantastic catches by Greg Olsen, the Panthers are 2-0 thanks to a player who does everything but kick the extra points. Newton led the Panthers in rushing with 76 yards on Sunday in the face of an absolutely relentless pass rush.
  1. Bill O'Brien is coaching the hell out of this Texans team and it's unfortunate that he won't have the record to show for it. After an overwhelmingly skittish Ryan Mallett tossed the first half away, O'Brien did a nice job of adjusting the game plan and giving him some underneath routes to hit in order to give Mallett his confidence back. In a game where Houston was thoroughly dominated by the Panthers, he had them within 20 yards of overtime.
  1. Shaq Thompson isn't lighting up the box score like Luke Kuechly, but the rookie has been a welcome addition to Carolina's linebacking corps. Is there any question that they have the most athletic set of non-rush linebackers in football right now? It might be overlooked, but their ability to control the intermediate portion of the field is winning them games.
  1. Mallett deserves to start another game. When he actually takes his time and sets his feet, he throws an incredible, blistering fastball. There were times when it was too much for his wideouts to handle, but this is also what happens when a team switches starters mid-stream. It's certainly a different ball than Hoyer throws.
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