Following three quarters of offensive barreness against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Panthers went no-huddle and stormed back from a 17-point deficit to steal a 21-17 victory in what was the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in franchise history.
So will Cam Newton be orchestrating more no-huddle drives moving forward? No so fast, says coach Ron Rivera.
"I think it's situational," Rivera said Monday, per the Panthers' official website. "Certain circumstances dictate a lot of the things that happen, more so than anything else. Because there have been times when we start the game in no-huddle and go three-and-out. I just think it's situational. Do we need to look at it? Most certainly, but I don't think that's going to drive who we are as an offense."
Rivera's non-committal approach makes sense, but it's hard to ignore just how much better the Panthers performed in becoming only the ninth team in NFL history to come back from a deficit of at least 17 points while being shut out through three quarters, per NFL Research.
Carolina tallied 226 total yards during its up-tempo fourth quarter compared to the 145 it had through the first three quarters. Newton passed for 201 yards and had a 131.1 QB rating in the fourth quarter -- a Superman-esque leap over the 68 yards and 62.9 rating that tainted his performance through the first 45 minutes.
As the Panthers' official website points out, Newton has a 128.0 QB rating in his limited running in the no-huddle this season compared to his 94.7 overall rating for the season.
"I think he does well when he goes out there and he's flowing," the wide receiver said, per The Charlotte Observer. "Like most quarterbacks, he's a rhythm guy, so whenever we get in a rhythm, we kind of get rolling."
Rivera agrees with Smith that the no-huddle has the potential to keep a good thing going if the offense clicks into rhythm, but he's not about to blindly give in to bulk execution of a game plan that was conceived out of desperation.
"If you go three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, next thing you know, your defense is constantly out there," Rivera said. "It can wear your defense out as well. It is most certainly a team thing and I think a lot of it is situational and by rhythm.
"I believe [offensive coordinator] Norv [Turner] has a good handle on it. I think what he did yesterday was right along the lines of trying to create some energy."