Raiders welcome Cam Newton, Panthers to the Coliseum Sunday

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — Winners of four straight games for the first time since 2002, the Raiders look to continue their winning ways at home Sunday when the Silver and Black welcome the Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to the Oakland Coliseum.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw two of his three touchdowns in the final frame to lift Oakland to a 27-20 “home” victory over the Houston Texans (6-4) on ESPN’s Monday Night Football to close out Week 11.

The game was played at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, which last hosted an NFL game in 2005 when the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-14 in a game that aired on ESPN’s Monday Night Football too.

Carr is continuing to have an outstanding 2016 season, throwing for 2,800 yards with 20 touchdowns with just four interceptions. The third-year signal caller is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and is being touted as an MVP candidate.

At 8-2, Oakland is tied with the New England Patriots for the best record in the AFC and holds a one-game lead in the AFC West over the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos who are both 7-3.

Denver hosts Kansas City on Sunday night in a highly anticipated matchup on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

The Raiders appear to be jelling at the right time on both sides of the ball.

Despite losing the time of possession 36:27 to 23:33, allowing 104 rushing yards to running back Lamar Miller, and 22 first downs to Houston, Oakland’s defense made life difficult to the Texans’ offense by forcing two turnovers.

Linebackers Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith, along with rookie safety Karl Joseph were all over the field racking up 10 tackles a piece. Smith also intercepted a Brock Osweiler pass in the second quarter.

Carolina (4-6) is having a tough season following the franchise’s second trip to the Super Bowl.

The reigning NFC Champions are dealing with a slew of injuries to key players following a 23-20 victory in Week 11 over division rival New Orleans at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (concussion), defensive end Mario Addison (foot), and center Ryan Khalil (shoulder) are all out for Sunday’s game.

Kuechly, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year winner, leads Carolina in tackles (71) while Addison, the team’s most disruptive pass rusher, leads the Panthers with 6.5 sacks.

Khalil, a two-time All-Pro at center, is Carolina’s best offensive lineman and the main protector for franchise quarterback Cam Newton.

Newton threw for 192 yards and one touchdown as Carolina nearly blew another 17-point lead the way they did in their Week 10 home lost to Kansas City, holding off a Saints team that scored 17 unanswered points in the final frame after trailing 23-3 entering the fourth quarter.

Oakland will have its hands full dealing with a Carolina offense that includes running back Jonathan Stewart, tight end Greg Olsen, and wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

Olsen is by far Newton’s favorite weapon and one of the premier tight ends in the league.

Not only does the 10-year tight end from Miami leads all NFL tight ends in receptions (54) and yards (745), but leads the Panthers in those categories while tied with wide receiver Devin Funchess for second on the team with three touchdown grabs behind Benjamin’s four scores.

Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. PT.

 

 

 

49ers beat up by Panthers, suffer narrow loss, 10-9

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By Morris Phillips

The 49ers saw their grip on Sunday’s game with the Panthers loosen with one debilitating injury after another.

Midway through the second period the 49ers led 9-0, and the defense had Cam Newton—the top pick in the 2011 draft—bottled up.  But in a tough, physical ball game, the battle of attrition most adversely affected the home team, starting with the first quarter loss of defensive end Ray McDonald.

Then the 49ers lost tight ends Brent Celek and Vernon Davis, and safety Eric Reid was felled in a violent collision with Mike Tolbert that had him down on the field for several minutes.

The injuries that limited the 49ers also seemed to embolden the Panthers, who responded with a huge defensive effort that shut out the 49ers in the second half, and allowed them to hold off San Francisco, 10-9.  The Panthers saw their win streak grow to five games, while the 49ers failed to extend their win streak to six.

“We thought the guys could do some good things and they did,” Carolina Coach Ron Rivera said of his defense, “I was pretty excited about that.  It worked to what we wanted to do.  I understand Vernon Davis went out and that was one of the things that really helped us in those situations.  You lose a weapon, especially an Excalibur and that is tough.”

“We made mistakes and in a game like this with two good teams, especially teams with two good defenses, you’ve got to capitalize on mistakes and they were able to do that,” the 49ers’ Aldon Smith said after his return to the field after a five-game absence.

Smith returned to action after a six week retreat to address his substance abuse issues, and the 49ers also saw the season debut of Mario Manningham, who was felled in last season’s late season blowout in Seattle.  But Smith saw action on just 11 plays and Manningham caught three balls for 30 yards.  The additions figured to make the 49ers complete on both sides of the ball.  Instead, Davis’ departure robbed the 49ers of their only deep threat and a critical blocker against a vicious Carolina pass rush that sacked Colin Kaepernick six times.

“Vernon changes defenses.  He makes them adjust differently.  He makes them do things that they don’t normally do.  He’s a big loss,” Kaepernick said.

Davis was injured when former Raider Mike Mitchell stripped the tight end of a catch in the red zone and simultaneously slammed him to the turf where Davis bumped his head and sustained a concussion.  Two plays later, on 4th and 1 from the Carolina 2, the 49ers lined up as to go for it, but lacking their usual power formation minus Davis and Celek, they conceded a delay of game penalty, and settled for a short field goal and a 9-0 lead.

According to Coach Jim Harbaugh, the two injuries at one position left the team scrambling.  During halftime, they made the adjustment to add backup offensive guard Adam Snyder to the two tight end formations.  But the Carolina defense didn’t yield the 49ers a red zone opportunity in the second half.

Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly played difference maker throughout, making 11 tackles, contributing a sack of Kaepernick as well as a critical pass breakup of a deep pass attempt to Vance McDonald.  Kuechly got plenty of help from Carolina’s front four and the 49ers were limited to 152 yards in offense, including just 46 yards passing once the yardage from the six sacks was subtracted from the total.

The 49ers return to action next Sunday in New Orleans where they will face Drew Brees and the Saints.  At 6-3, the 49ers will need to win there to stay above the stack in the NFC playoff race and within striking range of the Seahawks who improved to 8-1 on Sunday.

49ers to be tested against the tough Carolina Panthers

By Gabe Schapiro

This Sunday at 1:05pm the San Francisco 49ers (6-2) will be taking on the Carolina Panthers (5-3) at the friendly confines of Candlestick Park. This matchup features two teams who have been on a roll over the past few weeks. The 49ers have won five straight, and are in second place in the NFC West, just one game back of the Seattle Seahawks. The Panthers had a shaky start, but have hit their stride, rattling off four wins in a row, putting themselves in second place in the NFC South, one game behind the New Orleans Saints.

San Francisco is coming off of their bye week, but two weeks ago they easily dismantled the Jacksonville Jaguars, coasting to a 42-10 victory. The 49ers quickly put the game out of reach, mounting a 28-3 lead by half time. San Francisco stuck with what has got them here, and did most of their damage on the ground, rushing for 221 yards as a team. Frank Gore ran for 71 yards and two scores on 19 carries. Colin Kaepernick had two rushing touchdowns of his own to along with 54 yards on seven carries. For good measure, Kendall Hunter also got in on the action, compiling a team-high 84 yards on the ground on just nine attempts. On the defensive side the 49ers suffocated the Jaguars offense, not letting them ever get much of anything going. The highlight was a Patrick Willis forced fumble that Dan Skuta returned for a touchdown.

The Panthers should present a much more formidable opponent. On offense they have their own electric duel threat at quarterback in Cam Newton. His primary weapons are running back DeAngelo Williams, who is having a solid but not great season, tight end Greg Olson, who is leading the team in receiving yards, and old reliable Steve Smith, who isn’t the dominant player he once was, but still poses a threat. Their defense is easily their biggest strength, however. Young linebacker Luke Kuechly has been fantastic, lead the team in tackles and tied for the team lead in interceptions. Pass rushers Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy have consistently been giving opposing quarterbacks a hard time. As a unit they have allowed the second fewest yards and second fewest points per game in the NFL.

Sunday’s contest is a classic case of strength meeting strength. The 49ers have the fourth best rushing offense in the league, and they will be going up against the league’s best rush defense. Expect San Francisco to stick to their game plan, however, and go with a ground and pound approach. Depending on their success, however, they may need Kaepernick to air it out more than he has in recent weeks. Carolina’s defense hasn’t been as strong against the pass.

Mario Manningham and Aldon Smith are both expected to be active. It remains to be seen how limited they will be initially, but they could provide a big boost in what could be a tough week.