1. Mikell’s coverage on Cook for goalline stand
The score: Panthers 7, Rams 0, 5:35 left in first quarter.
The situation: Rams ball, fourth-and-goal at Carolina’s 1.
The play: Rams quarterback Sam Bradford faked a handoff and looked left to tight end Jared Cook, who was covered well by Panthers safety and former Ram Quintin Mikell. With Luke Kuechly and Charles Johnson pressuring him, Bradford threw the ball away.
Why it mattered: It kept the Rams off the scoreboard, if only momentarily. They scored on a safety on the next play when defensive end Eugene Sims tackled fullback Mike Tolbert in the end zone.
2. Long’s trip of Horton
The score: Panthers 10, Rams 2, 13:25 left in second quarter.
The situation: Rams ball, first-and-10 at the St. Louis 37.
The play: Wide receiver Tavon Austin gets behind Josh Thomas for an apparent 63-yard TD catch. But Rams tackle Jake Long is penalized for tripping defensive end Wes Horton, negating the touchdown.
Why it mattered: The 10-yard penalty wiped out a big play for the Rams, who held the ball for nearly nine minutes on the drive but had to settle for a field goal.
3. Tolbert’s personal foul
The score: Panthers 17, Rams 5, 7:32 left in third quarter.
The situation: Panthers ball, second-and-goal at the St. Louis 1.
The play: After getting stopped for no gain on first down, Tolbert again was stuffed on a run up the middle. Officials then whistled for Tolbert for a personal foul for what Ron Rivera called “flailing” under the pile, backing the Panthers up to their 16.
Why it mattered: After Cam Newton scrambled for 3 yards on the following play, the Panthers had to settle for a Graham Gano field goal to go up 20-5.
4. Quick’s quick strike
The score: Panthers 20, Rams 5, 6:46 left in third quarter.
The situation: Rams ball, first-and-10 at the St. Louis 20.
The play: Taking over after Gano’s field goal, Bradford threw deep for former Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, who got behind Josh Thomas for a 73-yard reception to the Panthers’ 7. It was the longest play allowed by the Panthers this season.
Why it mattered: Two plays after Quick’s catch, running back Zac Stacy scored on a 4-yard pass from Bradford to make it a one-score game at 20-12.
5. Hardy’s strip-sack of Clemens
The score: Panthers 30, Rams 15, 1:45 left in fourth quarter.
The situation: Rams ball, fourth-and-9 at the St. Louis 27.
The play: Rams backup quarterback Kellen Clemens, in for the injured Bradford, is sacked from behind by defensive end Greg Hardy. Clemens fumbles on the play, and Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short recovers at the Rams’ 23.
Why it mattered: The Rams’ third turnover ended what little chance they had at a comeback. The Panthers’ offense returned to the field, Newton kneeled three times and the game was over.