Cleat Geeks

The Panther Post: Step Away From the Ledge

On November 30, 2014 the Carolina Panthers traveled to Minnesota and were trashed by the Vikings to the tune of 31-13.  I remember thinking, “they’ve quit.”  Oddly, it turned out I was right.  They quit losing. carolina&Atlanta

It would be 392 days and 19 games later before the Panthers would lose another regular-season game.  As everyone knows by now, the Panthers were beaten in Atlanta on Sunday by a score of 20-13.  Champagne corks popped in Miami, hopes for a #1 seed in Arizona were renewed, and the dreams of a perfect 19-0 season had died.

On the surface, the Panthers simply picked a bad day to have a bad day.  The Panthers had destroyed the Falcons just two weeks ago by a score of 38-0, and had outscored the Falcons 72-3 in their last two meetings combined.  But something funny happened on the way to 15-0…the Panthers simply lost the “mojo” that has carried them for the past 13 months.  The emotion and swagger that had become a trademark just weren’t there this week and the Falcons jumped on the opportunity.

MikeRemmersThe recipe for beating Atlanta has always been fairly simple: Generate a pass rush on Matt Ryan and he becomes a turnover machine, run the ball effectively, then strike deep for the big play.  The Panthers failed on all three counts. To add insult to injury, offensive right tackle Mike Remmers had inarguably his worst game as a pro allowing constant pressure on QB Cam Newton including the decisive sack on the Panthers final drive.

All that said, there is no reason to panic. The Panthers lost by seven points on the road to a divisional opponent. It took a Hail Mary 70-yard touchdown completion from Ryan to Julio Jones (a pass that might be completed 1 out of 10 times) and a career-long 54-yard field goal by Shayne Graham for the final seven point margin. I’ve heard numerous analysts this week say that “there is no such thing as a good loss”.  I’m going to disagree wholeheartedly here. The pressure is now off to achieve the elusive “perfect season”.  The distraction of “should we rest the starters” is also now gone. The Panthers are still in control of their own destiny for the number one seed in the NFC and host the 6-9 Tampa Bay Bucs this Sunday. And now they’re mad.  And now the chip is back on their shoulders. And remember this:  the Panthers began last Sunday with the best record in the NFL.  They also ended Sunday with the best record in the NFL.

So the 18-game regular-season win streak is over.  All the Panthers want now is a little four-game streak. Starting now.

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