It took Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen three catches in the end zone to get his first touchdown of the season, and his second-quarter spike told his frustration in that statistic.
Olsen had been in the end zone twice this season just to have them called back, including once earlier in Sunday’s 27-22 victory New Orleans. So when he crossed the goal line and there were no yellow flags on the field, Olsen did something he typically doesn’t do: He celebrated.
Usually Olsen is the guy who jeers celebrations. It’s his job to score touchdowns, so when he scores there should be nothing to celebrate.
His typical line is, “OK, we get it.” After his spike, he heard it from his teammates.
“OK, we get it,” center Ryan Kalil said he and his teammates teased Olsen after the touchdown.
Olsen took the jokes in stride.
“I’m not a big spiker or celebrator,” Olsen said. “That’s not really my thing. That one felt good.”
Sunday against the Saints, Olsen had his biggest game of the season as he continues to get more involved in the passing game as the year goes on.
Olsen led all receivers with eight catches on 11 targets for 134 yards and two touchdowns, after games of one catch for 11 yards and six catches for 70 yards.
Quarterback Cam Newton didn’t get warm with Olsen until the second quarter, with the Panthers already down 10-0. They connected on a 27-yard pass to get across midfield, but the Panthers were backed up 10 yards on the next play when Olsen was called for holding.
Then Carolina worked inside the New Orleans 5 before Newton found Olsen for a 4-yard touchdown. But Richie Brockel was called for offensive pass interference and Carolina was moved back.
It was the second time a penalty negated an Olsen touchdown this season – the other came against Jacksonville in Week 1, when Olsen was called for a push.
No matter. Olsen and Newton connected two plays later for an 11-yard touchdown. Then came the spike.
“Touchdowns are hard to come by,” Olsen said. “You can’t give those away.”
The Saints’ defense entered the game trying to take away Carolina’s rushing game. That meant loading the box with eight men and playing a lot of man-to-man pass coverage.
The Panthers took advantage after getting the ball back just before the two-minute warning.
From the Carolina 19, Olsen faked his usual out-breaking route, but instead ran down the seam, where Newton hit him for a 52-yard catch and run.
“That particular route was something that he brought up ... and sure enough (they) gave us what (we) wanted,” Newton said. “It is just him making a play and getting a lot of YAC (yards after catch) afterward.”
Olsen had 100 receiving yards by halftime, and he capped it off in the third quarter with his second touchdown of the day, an 11-yarder that gave the Panthers their first lead, at 17-16.
There would be no spike on that touchdown despite the spike in his statistical production.
“I don’t get overly wrapped up in catches and fantasy football. That’s not the way I view the tight end position,” Olsen said. “I take a lot of pride in impacting the game with or without the ball. That’s something that only a few guys in the league can do.
“The balls are going to come. When they come, make the plays, maximize the plays and that’s what we try to do. There are a lot of other ways a tight end can impact the game when he’s not just running routes. That’s what we do around here.
“Plays are going to come your way. Today was a key example of that. At the end of the year, it’ll all even out.”