Sunday afternoon the Carolina Panthers dropped their 3rd straight game, this one to the Seattle Seahawks, 30-27.
Considering that Carolina punted just once the entire game, you would probably think 27 points seems like a pretty low amount, and you’d be correct. After forcing Seattle into a quick punt to start the game, Carolina got the ball deep into the red zone. Four straight runs, however, led to a turnover on downs.
Once again, Carolina’s defense forced another quick punt from Seattle, and the offensive series started much the same. Two long pass plays of a combined 50 yards had Carolina right in the red zone again. It was only logical, however, that after passing the ball right up the field it would be smart to run the ball up the gut three straight times (making that seven straight red zone runs overall).
Graham Gano made a short field goal to put the Panthers up 3-0. However, anyone that has ever watched a Carolina game knows that these“missed opportunities” would come back to bite the team.
The teams traded punches for the rest the of the first half which included a touchdown from Curtis Samuel, and another Gano field goal as time expired in the half (another drive that most feel should’ve finished in a TD). Going into the locker room, the score was 13-10.
If you thought that a 25% TD conversion rate in the red zone was bad, then you were even more disappointed when a fifth Carolina red zone trip turned up empty at the start of the 3rd quarter. Cam Newton dropped back and threw a pass off of his back foot to Chris Manhertz in the back of the end zone. Bradley McDougald jumped up for the 50/50 ball with Manhertz, tipped it to himself, and picked it off. Considering Manhertz had just one catch all season and was in triple coverage, it seems like a bit of an ill-advised throw (and play call). Again, missed opportunities reigned supreme over those who consider themselves Panthers fans.
As is the Carolina way, we paid for the turnover and Seattle took their first lead of the day when Wilson threw a dart to Tyler Lockett. Yeah, those first two stops for the Carolina defense were an anomaly for the day (actually, for the season). Part of this can be attributed to rookie stud Donte Jackson missing all but the first play with an injury, leaving James Bradberry, Corn Elder, and Captain Munnerlyn as the only other corners active on Sunday. Elder, playing to his namesake, was not very quick on his feet against Seattle.
When it felt like Carolina finally had the game at their grasps with about three minutes to go, they let up a 4th and 10, 35-yard bomb from Wilson to Moore to tie the game at 27. Who was guarding Moore, you might ask?
None other than Panthers’ legend Corn Elder.
This isn’t an attempt to single out one player. Captain Munnerlyn belongs in a retirement home; he gave up a 43-yard bomb to Tyler Lockett with less than a minute to go (on third down, as well). This is just after Graham Gano missed a 52-yard field goal to give the Panthers a lead.
Yes, you read that correctly, Gano missed another big field goal.
I could see where you may think I was talking about the one he missed in the Super Bowl, or the one he missed in a Wild Card game last year, or even the one he missed last week. No, Graham Gano missed another field goal, and it was just after Charles Davis, who was commentating the game for FOX Sports, was talking about how great Gano has been over the past two seasons.
Anyways, after that long completion for Seattle, over. Janikowski kicked an easy 31-yard field goal for the win (after some bad clock management by Carolina) and sent the Panthers to 6-5.
When your offense misses 4 touchdown opportunities in the red zone, pass rush is nonexistent without blitzing, and the secondary is burnt toast, that’s not a recipe for success.
It would take a miracle to turn this season around, but the silver lining is that Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore were each phenomenal. McCaffrey finished with 125 rush yards and 112 receiving yards, while Moore finished with 91 receiving yards.
The future may be bright in Charlotte with those two, but it will require a lot more accountability within the organization and coaching staff to succeed at an expected level.