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Panthers Thoughts – Week Eleven: Same Damn Script

My thoughts on the Carolina Panthers week eleven loss, which looked exactly like so many others these past two years.

It’s just funny at this point. There’s no point in getting upset. All you can do is just nod and laugh. The Carolina Panthers were up 11 points with 6 minutes to go. They lost in overtime. Same damn script.

We’ve seen it countless times in the past two seasons under Ron Rivera. The team plays good enough to win. They’re in a position to win, whether it be needing a defensive stop or putting together a game-winning drive. But they don’t win. They always find a way to screw it up. It’s just expected at this point. There’s no reason to watch an entire Panthers game. Just turn it on with 2 minutes left, check the score, and you can predict exactly what’s going to happen.

The final six minutes played out like this: The Buccaneers offense kicked a field goal to cut the lead to eight. The Panthers offense picked up a first down, but came up a yard short on 3rd and 12, forcing them to punt the ball from midfield with just over a minute left. The ball went into the end zone, meaning the Bucs had to drive 80 yards with no timeouts to score a touchdown and convert a two point conversion. Against any other defense, this seems impossible. Against the Panthers defense, everyone is Tom Cruise. The Bucs offense score a touchdown, thanks in part to a dumb penalty by the defense, but mainly terrible coverage on the touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson, who caught the ball despite three defenders being near him. The Bucs still needed a two point conversion, but we all knew that would be converted. And converted it was.

In overtime, the Bucs won the coin toss and easily marched down the field for the touchdown, leaving the Panthers no chance to respond.

Same damn script.

The offense was nearly perfect in this game. Greg Olsen had a big drop early and DeAngelo Williams still doesn’t get enough carries for as much as we’re paying the guy, but I’ve given up on him being used properly. Cam Newton had a strong game, throwing for over 250 yards, rushing for another 40, and getting a pass TD. The big thing was that he was only sacked twice (one looked to be a designed run) and he didn’t turn the ball over. The offense did everything the team needed to do, but the defense once again let them down.

It was a real shame too, because the defense had played pretty great until the final 6 minutes. They picked off Josh Freeman twice, including a pick six, and forced a fumble on the goal line after it looked like Doug Martin had a touchdown. When the team needed them to step up though, they failed as usual.

The special teams might as well not exist in Carolina. Captain Munnerlyn, who had the pick six on defense, fumbled that football on a punt return, which set up the first score for the Bucs. The team also missed a field goal and tried a fake punt that failed miserably.

The script isn’t going to change as long as Ron Rivera is the head coach. I can understand why the team may want to keep him around the rest of this year, considering that it’s all but over, and search for a replacement in the off-season, but he better be gone next year. If he’s not, we can expect more of the same in Carolina until he is.

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