Frustration. Every Panthers fan is feeling it in some form or fashion after another gut-wrenching loss on Sunday. Our blood pressures are raising, our anxiety is high, and our patience is running thin. Tough times indeed, as Carolina looks to improve on its deserved 1-3 record Sunday against Seattle.
An up and down first half to say the least, ended with Panther Nation scratching their heads about coaching decisions. This Panther fan must ask, what in God’s name is Captain doing returning punts? I understand the Joe Adams situation, but can’t we try someone that isn’t inferior back there? More importantly, what was Ron Rivera doing at the end of the half? That was some of the worst clock management I have ever seen, and to top it off he didn’t use his final timeout to try a hail mary… why? The Cats’ got the ball back after Roddy White’s second touchdown reception with about 1:50 left in the second quarter. They were advancing the ball very nicely but failed to burn any of their THREE timeouts.
The defense held their own with the exception of a few plays. Some missed tackles as usual, specifically the secondary and Jon Beason. Jon just isn’t looking the same as he battles injuries. Charles Johnson was really a force in there disrupting and sacking Matt Ryan a couple times in the first half. The Falcons lead at halftime 17-14.
In the third quarter the Panthers defense softened and Michael Turner continued to be impenetrable. Michael “the Burner” Turner had his first career touchdown reception off of a 60 yard screen pass. Falcons lead 24-14 with five minutes gone in the third quarter. Tackling must improve if the Panthers expect to compete in this league. Panthers fought back with a quick screen to Armanti Edwards for a big 1st down conversion and then a big completion to Greg Olsen for another first down. Then on back to back QB draws Cam takes the last 20 yards himself, resulting in his A-town stomp end zone celebration. Panthers bring it within a field goal with just a few minutes remaining in the third quarter 21-24.
Panthers get a touchdown pass on 3 and 10 to Kealoha Pilares. Panthers lead 28-24 in the 4th. On the Falcons following possession they managed to move all the way down the field, but forced to settle for a field goal attempt. Falcons bring the score to within one point with just under five minutes remaining. Panthers offense came out with flat on their next possession going three and out. Falcons got the ball back with 3:16 remaining on their own 29. Panthers defense force a three and out!!!
Panthers forced to punt with one minute remaining after Cam Newton fumbles backwards. He had already secured the first down. Panthers pin the Falcons at the one yard-line. Game over, right? Well that’s what the world thought, until Matt Ryan threw the ball from the middle of his own endzone 60 yards to Roddy White landing on the Panther 40 yard line. The play punished Safety Namukamura yet again as he struggled the whole game following his first quarter interception.
On a positive note, Chud did a great job of adding new wrinkles to the offense today, from putting Armanti in at QB, to bringing in a full house shotgun formation. It actually looked like the Cats answered the call in the face of adversity. Cam made big throws and the defense was knocking Matt Ryan around all game long. Ryan was sacked seven times, the most in his career.
Last remarks, Ron Rivera, you need to take a real good look at your secondary. Namukamura, has already been called out enough in this article, but Captain was flagged for a pass interference on Julio Jones on the Falcons final drive. On the Falcons final offensive play, Josh Norman lets Harry Douglas get eight yards getting out of bounds to stop the clock with 10 seconds left. Why play soft coverage? They aren’t going to make a deep throw, nor are they throwing a slant because they had no timeouts. No excuse.
Notable Statistics for the Panthers
Charles Johnson posts career numbers with 3.5 sacks and 8 tackles.
Cam Newton finished with 215 passing yards, 2 TD passes, 0 INT with 85 yards rushing and a rushing TD.
Greg Olsen led all Panthers receivers with 89 yards on 6 receptions and 1 TD.
Friends, this author knows last Thursday was disheartening. I cringed with the rest of Panther Nation as the New York Giants ran rampant over the Panthers all night. Cam Newton has taken heavy criticism in both local and national media following the spectacle, and once again his leadership is being called into question. However, one positive that can come out of this hole in which the Cats have dug themselves is a test of mental toughness. This week presents a new challenge, and Cam Newton and the rest of the Cats have the opportunity to demonstrate a short term memory, a key feature of any great NFL franchise players. It is absolutely critical as the team goes into Atlanta to not let last weeks’ result against the Giants remotely affect the outcome of the contest in the Georgia Dome.
Now that’s more like it.
The Panthers earned an impressive win today against record setting QB Drew Brees and a formidable Saints team, with a final score of 35-27.
Cam Newton was the driving force behind Carolina’s success. He was efficient both through the air and on the ground with 253 yards passing, 71 yards rushing, one passing touchdown and a rushing TD. Possibly the most pleasant surprise was the return of the Panthers’ rushing attack, which was virtually abandoned last week against Tampa Bay. The team collectively rushed for 219 yards and 3 TDs, and kept the Saints defense off-balance throughout the game.
According to an ESPN report this morning, Saints star linebacker Jonathan Vilma will more than likely have his suspension reduced from the whole season to 8 games. The NFL has not made a settlement offer as of yet, but that is the expected course of action. The courts in Louisiana have ordered all parties involved to engage in settlement talks. The defamation lawsuit against Goodell must be dropped in order for the NFLPA and Council to execute a change in the length of suspension.