Charlotte, NC -This team CAN NOT afford to turn back into the 2001 Panthers, which they are on the verge of doing. The 2001 team would build a lead, but not put opponents away, thereby leaving the door open for a comeback. All you have to do is look at the last two weeks to see what I'm talking about. Our team is back-sliding.
For the second consecutive week, the Panthers have blown a lead and lost a game in the fourth quarter. That's a habit I thought we had grown out of, but old habits seem to die hard. Rodney Peete's two interceptions combined with Lamar Smith's two fumbles to doom the Panthers.
Despite improvement in the kicking game, and kudos to Shayne Graham for hitting two field goals, the Panthers found a way to lose. Leading 13-6 with 5:44 left in the 4th quarter, one would have thought our defense would've been able to hold the lead. After all, we came into the game as the #1 defense, and we had harassed the Cardinals all afternoon. You would think we could put the game on the strength of our team and win. You'd be wrong.
When the Cards came out with 5:44 left in the game, our defense simply disappeared. Call it soft coverage, call it blown assignments, or call it piss-poor play, but it stunk. The Panthers did manage to get the Cards in a 3rd and 13 situation, but the Cards completed a 31-yard bomb to save themselves. The Cards then ran twice before taking advantage of our pass rush with a well-timed screen for a 15-yard touchdown. This evened the game up at 13-13 and it went downhill from there.
The Panthers got the ball back with 2:33 left, but managed only 13 yards of offense. After the punt, this left the Cards 1:26 on the clock – The longest minute and a half in any Panther fan's life. He Cards marched straight down the field as if the Panthers weren't even there, setting up a
50 yard Martin Gramatica field goal attempt, which was naturally good.
A bone-headed kickoff out of bounds put the Panthers in business at the 40 yard line, but it was all for naught. Cardinals win, 16-13.
I wouldn't be half as pissed off if this team couldn't get a lead. If they couldn't do ANYTHING, it would just be proof they sucked – Which they don't. But for the love of God Almighty, don't tease us like this! Finish the game! Tackle somebody when it's on the line! I know you can, because I've seen you do it. Deliver the goods.
I hope John Fox rides these guys hard all week. To be so close and blow it is maddening. After the 1-15 season, 3-2 is a great start, don't get me wrong. However this team is frustratingly close to being 5-0, and they MUST get it in gear. We will not win many games scoring only 13 points. We will not win many games by easing back defensively at the end of games. Take a hard look at yourselves, Panthers. You're better than this. You know it, I know it, and you blasted well better make sure your next opponent knows it. Go into Texas Stadium and show us a little Panther pride. Otherwise, you're going to start hearing things. You think "Worst 3-0 team" was bad? Wait until you hear "Same old Panthers."