News broke earlier this week that Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly wouldn’t be playing this game, and it was assumed that many veterans and key players would follow suit. This number grew tenfold, as it seemed like the only presumed starter who got significant playing time was Tre Boston, and that was likely only because he was signed so recently and the coaching staff is trying to get him back in the flow of things.
Getting the start at quarterback, Kyle Allen looked to be a reliable option at quarterback, notching 76 passing yards while completing 7 of 11 passes. It wasn’t a spectacular performance, but he led the team to two field goal drives in just over a quarter of play and he didn’t make any major mistakes.
Other standouts include Elijah Holyfield, Andre Levrone, Terry Godwin, Andre Smith, Rashaan Gaulden and Joey Slye. Holyfield got off to a shaky start with an early fumble, and really struggled to get much going on the ground all game, but bounced back with two touchdowns, including an impressive run in the fourth quarter where he broke a tackle in the backfield and bounced it outside for the score.
Levrone led the team with four catches for 51 yards, showing strong hands by catching multiple passes in traffic and almost coming down with a one-handed grab in the endzone with the defender all over him. Godwin only caught one pass for 10 yards on offense, but had a few impressive returns on special teams, including a 57-yard punt return and totaling 103 yards on three returns between kickoffs and punts.
Smith, a second-year linebacker, led the team with five tackles and deflected a pass in the end zone on a drive where the Bears ended up settling for a field goal. Gaulden, who had a somewhat up-and-down performance, made an impact with a pass deflection and a forced fumble, where he used Charles Tillman’s “Peanut Punch” to knock the ball loose. Lastly, backup kicker Joey Slye went 3-3 on field goals, including a 55-yarder that had some room to spare. He won’t take the job from Graham Gano, but if he continues to look good, the team can stash him on the practice squad to use as insurance in case Gano gets hurt again.