By Cindy Davis // @XO_CindyDavis
Redskins 23 – Panthers 17
The Cardiac cats struck again for the second week in a row on Sunday as the Panthers game came down to the wire. Unfortunately, this game did not have quite the happy ending that the Giants game had.
With under 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Panthers had a chance to defeat the Redskins and score a game-winning touchdown but they were out of sync and unable to convert.
There were many frustrating scenarios in this game that led up to the nail-biting finish.
For starters, the Panthers had three turnovers in the first half that led the Redskins to score 17 points. Two of these turnovers were caused by rookie wide receiver DJ Moore. Moore also had frustrating special teams play where he allowed the Redskins ball to bounce into the end zone rather than catching the ball and pinning them back inside the 5-yard line.
To make matters worse, quarterback Cam Newton got hit during a play that caused him to throw a pick to former Panther cornerback Josh Norman. Prior to this game, Norman had not had an interception in 20 games. He also caused one of Moore’s turnovers by punching the ball to force a fumble.
The offensive line also had their worst performance yet and looked like they were struggling to protect Newton and give him time to make plays.
Josh Norman with possibly the easiest pick of his career pic.twitter.com/t77GL0EpjF
— No Huddle NFL (@NoHuddle_NFL) October 14, 2018
The Panthers continue to struggle on defense and gave up 97 rushing yards to running back Adrian Peterson. Fans were hopeful that having linebacker Thomas Davis back this week would help the run defense and allow the defensive ends to get more pressure on the quarterback. There was no such luck as the Redskins repeatedly managed to drive down the field and convert on 3rd and 4th downs.
The second half showed what this defense is capable of, as the Panthers defense managed to hold the Redskins to only 6 points. However, it was too little too late.
Perhaps the most perplexing and devastating part of this game was the play calling and execution in the final minutes. The Panthers had all three timeouts and plenty of time left on the clock for a touchdown. On second down, there was a wide open RB Christian McCaffrey in the end zone, but Newton overthrew him. Newton proceeded to make three overthrown passes and 2 shots to the end zone rather than going for a first down in the final minutes, ultimately losing the game.
While it’s easy to see all the negative in this game, there were some positive takeaways. WR Devin Funchess brought his A game and made big plays that helped put this team in a position to win, showing why he can be a #1 receiver. He connected with Newton for an amazing 23-yard touchdown grab and helped this team get several critical first downs. WR Torrey Smith also showed up, scoring a touchdown and a 2 point conversion in back to back plays.
Devin Funchess with a filthy TD grab over Dunbar pic.twitter.com/7LrRnaEA6G
— Panthers 24/7 (@Panthers24_7) October 14, 2018
This game showed just how devastating losing the turnover battle is. The Panthers are better than the team that showed up on Sunday. There was bad time management, bad offensive and defensive plays, and questionable play calling. Even kicker Graham Gano who came in clutch for the win last week missed an extra point.
This team looked sloppy and unable to come together on any phase. In a division with the Saints, every game counts. The team is still adjusting to new offensive and defensive coordinators. They’re also plugging Thomas Davis and tight end Greg Olsen back into the equation.
The Panthers have a lot of work to do if they are going to figure it out before they face the Eagles in Philadelphia this Sunday.
Talk Panthers with Cindy on Twitter @XO_CindyDavis