It is hard to get a good gauge on the Panthers’ defensive line because they were going up against a strong Bengals offensive line. Entering this week, Andy Dalton had been sacked only once but Charles Johnson was able to get to him and registered his second sack of the season. Defensive tackle Kawann Short had a solid game with five tackles and two QB hits.
That was about the extent of the pressure they were able to get on Dalton and he had plenty of time in the pocket. The Panthers defense needs to generate more pressure with their defensive line, especially with how depleted their secondary has been due to injury.
This was a homecoming game for Luke Kuechly, who is from the Cincinnati area, and was the team’s leading tackler with 13 tackles. Fellow linebacker Thomas Davis was second on the team with nine tackles.
The stat line may look good but the linebackers struggled against the Bengals. Gio Bernard broke off an 89-yard touchdown run in the second quarter thanks in large part to a missed tackle by Thomas Davis.
These types of big plays have become too common for this group and they need to get better at shutting those down.
Entering this game, the Panthers were without two of their top cornerbacks, Bene Benwikere and Josh Norman, due to injuries. Luckily for Antoine Cason, Melvin White and the rest of the defensive backs they did not have to face A.J. Green, who was out with a toe injury.
It didn’t stop Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense from putting up huge passing yards. Dalton finished the day with a season high 323 passing yards with Mohammed Sanu being his favorite target (10 receptions, 120 yards, 1 touchdown).
The positive from this group though was they were very opportunistic when they had a chance to capitalize on a Dalton mistake. Antoine Cason and Roman Harper both had an interception, with Cason returning his interception 80 yards. This play set up Fozzy Whittaker’s touchdown run, which tied the game at 17.
No one wants a tie in the NFL, but if it wasn’t for Graham Gano hitting two field goals at the end of regulation, the Panthers would have left Cincinnati with a loss. Right before Gano kicked his first field goal at the end of the game, Marvin Lewis decided to try and ice him by calling a time out.
He made that field goal and after the time out had to do it all over again, which he did. Gano finished the day 3 of 4 on field goal attempts and was perfect on four extra point attempts.