Too Little, Too Late for Panthers’ offense
For the second week in a row, it took until the fourth quarter for the Panthers offense to show any life. The offense was only able to muster a field goal through the first three quarters and found themselves down 16-3 entering the final 15 minutes of the game.
Cam Newton made two huge plays in a four minute stretch where he threw a 25-yard touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin and a 47-yard touchdown to Philly Brown. These plays gave the Panthers a 17-16 lead and they looked to have the momentum.
The next drive after the two touchdowns they continued to take shots down the field, this time to Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin for 17 yards and 13 yards respectively. The question is why did it take until the fourth quarter for the offense to come alive?
The case could be made that in the Philadelphia game, the Eagles were in more prevent defense because of the lead they had in the fourth quarter. However the game today was still very much in the air and the Panthers offense looked nearly unstoppable. The coaching staff has to come up with a game plan during the bye week that is able to get this kind of production in the earlier stages of the game.
The Panthers defense has a lot of fight left
The Panthers defense put together one of their better performances this season against Atlanta, particularly against the pass. The Panthers showed fight, literally and figuratively, that has been lacking for most of the season.
In the third quarter, Devin Hester took a cheap shot at the end of a plays by diving head first into a Panthers defender which sparked a brawl between the two teams. The very next play the Falcons threw a screen pass to Hester and as he broke free, Thomas Davis laid a hit on him that jarred the ball and helped spark the Panthers comeback.
This game looked to be just like the other Panthers games this year where the defense starts strong but due to the offense’s struggles, they start to wear down and the game will slip away. This week they weren’t going to allow that happen, particularly Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, who looked dominant from start to finish.
The Panthers are still in the division race
The Carolina Panthers have been struggling with injuries all season and the bye week is going to give them a chance to get healthy. Surprisingly with how bad the Panthers have looked and the fact they have lost seven of the last nine games, they are still very much in the race for the NFC South title.
However, Carolina only plays one team with a winning record (Cleveland) and has one game left with the three other teams in the division. The Panthers would probably have to win out to have a chance but the way the schedule is set up, they got a chance. If they play the way they did today and are able to get the offense going a little bit earlier, they should stay in contention all the way to the end of the season.