By Cindy Davis // @XO_CindyDavis
Detroit Lions 20 – Carolina Panthers 19
The Carolina Panthers have lost their last two games in heartbreaking fashion. First came the embarrassing blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on primetime. If that wasn’t already devastating enough for fans, the Panthers followed that game with a loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday by one point, 20-19. This loss marked the Panthers 4th loss, all of which have come on the road.
One of the most frustrating things about the Lions game was the fact that the Panthers had 10 days to mull over their embarrassing loss to the Steelers, and they still showed up to Detroit with an underwhelming and lackluster performance. There were so many missed opportunities in this game that it seemed as if the Panthers found a way to lose rather than finding ways to win.
Nothing was seemingly coming together for this team on Sunday. The offense struggled, namely wide receiver Devin Funchess, who had 5 drops with the worst one being in the end zone. Another big disappointment that contributed to the loss was the missed kicks that left 4 points on the table for this Panthers team. Graham Gano missed a 34-yard field goal and also missed a PAT later in the game.
This caused the Panthers head coach Ron Rivera to make a gamble to go for 2 with 1:07 left in the game, rather than kick the game-tying PAT to possibly head to overtime. To the Panthers and the fans dismay, Cam Newton overthrew an open WR Jarius Wright in the end zone for the 2 point attempt. They then tried to recover an onside kick which they did not get, immediately losing the game.
One of the biggest issues with this team is still the defense. While the defense did manage to make a couple of key stops in this game, they were slow to start, looked lethargic and also allowed an otherwise struggling Lion’s offense to make some big plays. This is one of the toughest pills to swallow considering this team is run by a defensive minded coach and is supposed to be defense driven.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Panthers had 10 missed tackles which allowed 87 yards rushing after contact and 133 yards after the catch for the Lions. This is unacceptable and it’s well beyond time for these veterans to step up in the locker room and on the field to make a change.
While it is hard to remain positive about this team following their performance these past two weeks, there was some glimmer of hope moments. For starters, WR DJ Moore is looking better week to week. He had an amazing 82-yard catch and run on 3rd and 10. He looked like he was definitely going to score until cornerback Darius Slay caught up with him and brought him down on the 12-yard line. Unfortunately, it was all negated as the Panthers failed to get in the end zone and Gano subsequently missed the 34-yard field goal.
— The Ringer (@ringer) November 18, 2018
Perhaps the most impressive young receiver on our team is WR Curtis Samuel. He has just 21 touches but 5 touchdowns this season. Samuel is tied with New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr for 11th in the league in yards per route run and Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the 13th best receiver in the league.
This leaves us questioning why the coaching staff isn’t utilizing him on more snaps. Moore and Samuel have the ability to make game-changing plays and take the top off this offense, yet for whatever reason, they remain underutilized.
The Panthers are still in the wildcard playoff hunt. However, other teams are heating up while the Panthers are seemingly struggling to find their identity. The Panthers host the Seattle Seahawks, another team in the hunt, this Sunday. This is always a tough matchup for the Panthers since Seattle is so similar with a mobile quarterback.
The Panthers play well at home and usually get hot in November and December under Rivera, but will be looking to keep their season alive and their heads above water this Sunday following two back to back losses. Hopefully, after Sunday, the Panthers and their fans will have reason to regain some confidence and show why they can be a contender in the NFC.
Talk Panthers with Cindy on Twitter @XO_CindyDavis