Sunday’s Panther loss has been the worst of the season. They looked bad on offense, defense and special teams. In fact, they looked bad in pretty much every aspect of the game. With all of this coming off their bye week, it was more than disappointing. The entire time I kept wondering if we had gone back in time. Is this the 2010 Panthers playing right now? Is this déjà vu?
During the bye week I still had high hopes for the Panthers and thought they would be able to bounce back, even after suffering that crushing last-minute loss to the Vikings. I thought they could go 4-4 in the second half of the season and would have something to build on heading into 2012. Now I am looking forward to a top five draft pick.
The special teams play is absolutely appalling, from giving up big plays and touchdowns, to costly penalties, to missed kicks, the Panthers have been awful. Sunday was just another example. After going three and out, the Panthers punted it away only to have it returned 79 yards to the house. For Carolina to have any success going forward, they have to fix the problems on the special teams. With the way the defense has performed, they simply can’t afford to get put into a hole created by special teams.
Speaking of the defense, they didn’t do a whole lot to stop anything. Carolina allowed Chris Johnson, who going into the game only had one 100-yard game and one touchdown, to rush for 130 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers are currently ranked 28th in the NFL in yards against. They simply can’t let every running back that plays them look like Walter Payton.
Offensively, the Panthers weren’t much better. Cam Newton was 23 of 40 for only 212 yards and an interception. Newton’s numbers were down from his earlier-in-the-season averages. It was his second fewest yards in a game and his second lowest QB rating for the season. Steve Smith, who was averaging over a hundred yards a game, only managed 5 catches for 33 yards. The entire day was just disappointing.
Ok, I can’t talk about that loss anymore. It is making me sick and giving me flashbacks to last season. Let’s look instead at the rest of the NFL.
- In the first Thursday night game of the season, Oakland took care of San Diego 24-17. Michael Bush seemed to fill in nicely in the absence of Darren McFadden and Carson Palmer had his best game since joining up with Oakland. On the other side of the ball Philip Rivers continues to struggle and the Chargers more and more are not looking like a playoff team.
- The Saints beat the Falcons 26-23 in overtime. The call by Mike Smith to go for it on 4th down in his own territory backfired on him.
- The Steelers took care of Cincinnati 24-17. Pittsburgh now sits atop the division at 7-3 with a much needed bye week as Ben Roethlisberger got a little banged up in this one.
- The Browns handed the St. Louis Rams their second win of the season after a bad snap on a field goal with under two minutes left. The Rams escaped 13-12.
- Tony Romo was nearly flawless in the 44-7 win over the Bills. The Cowboys have to be pleased with the way DeMarco Murray and Laurent Robinson have filled in for the injured Felix Jones and Miles Austin.
- The Colts continued their campaign for Andrew Luck as they lost again to Jacksonville 17-3. The Jags continue to play good defense and Blaine Gabbert now has two wins under his belt.
- The Broncos were able to beat Kansas City 17-10 despite the fact that Tim Tebow was only 2 of 8 passing. Denver ran the ball an astonishing 55 times, which is just fine with John Fox.
- The Redskins switched quarterbacks again, back to Rex Grossman, but it didn’t matter as Miami beat them 20-9. Mike Shanahan’s personnel moves continue to puzzle me – it’s as if he just picks his depth chart with a dart board.
- The John Skelton-led Cardinals took care of the Eagles 21-17. More problems could be ahead for the Eagles, as Michael Vick could miss time after breaking a couple of ribs early in this one.
- The Texans destroyed the Bucs 37-9. Houston could be without Matt Schaub for the rest of the season after an injury, just as Andre Johnson is about ready to come back. It seems like the Texans can’t keep their big three on the field at the same time.
- The Ravens had a letdown one week after sweeping the Steelers. They lost to Seattle 22-17.
- Chicago manhandled Detroit 37-13. Chicago seems to be peaking at the right time.
- The 49ers were able to stop the late-game comeback of the NY Giants this week as they won 27-20. The 49ers are now 8-1.
- The Patriots completed their sweep of the Jets as they won 37-16. Rex Ryan has to be concerned at NY’s chances of making the playoffs this season.
- On Monday night the Packers took apart the Vikings 45-7. Aaron Rodgers continues to impress, and as far as I am concerned has wrapped up the MVP after week 10.