The Panthers are hoping a midseason bye week helps turn their season around.
The Panthers are 2-6 heading into their off week but have been competitive against every team they've played and have either held leads or been tied in the fourth quarter in five of their six defeats. On Sunday, the Panthers led 21-14 against Minnesota, then gave up a late third-quarter touchdown to Adrian Peterson and a field goal to Ryan Longwell with less than three minutes to go.
Olindo Mare had a chance to tie it with 26 seconds left but missed a field goal wide left.
"It's like Groundhog's Day, it seems like we've had this conversation six times this year," tight end Greg Olsen said. "It's disappointing. We gave ourselves a chance at the end, but we had three and out in that crucial part of the game in the third and fourth quarter. You can't do that."
Simply put, the Panthers haven't been able to finish games.
Carolina's offense continues to put up gaudy numbers, but several times this season they've had big lapses in the fourth quarter.
It happened again against the Vikings as the Panthers had three consecutive three-and-outs during the third and fourth quarters.
"Anyone who thinks this game came down to the last possession is a fool," said quarterback Cam Newton, who threw for a career-high three touchdown passes. "Offensively and defensively we had opportunities, just didn't finish it off. Three and out is unacceptable and if you expect to win games and you're going three and out and you call yourself a high-powered offense, that's not it. I think as an offense we failed ourselves, which resulted in a loss."
Newton said he'd prefer the Panthers keep playing this week rather than have a bye week.
"I don't think this break is going to resolve too much, because at the end of the day you still have to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, 'Are you going to get the job done or what are you going to do?'" Newton said. "The saying is, 'Some do, some don't' some come through in the clutch, some don't. You look at our record and it says a lot, I don't classify us as a good team. Actions speak way louder than words. If you consider yourself a good team you have to be able to do things."
A win would have helped pull the Panthers within reach of .500, but now they have a huge struggle ahead of them with a tough remaining schedule after the bye week.
TRENDING: The Panthers continue to struggle on defense with stopping the run. They did a decent job of holding Adrian Peterson at bay most of the first quarter and a half but the Vikings were able to move the ball at will against the Panthers later on. Peterson finished with 86 yards on 21 carries and also caught five passes for 76 yards on short dump-off passes after the Panthers moved guys up to stuff the box.
BY THE NUMBERS: Steve Smith entered the game as the NFL's leading receiver and had 100 yards on five catches, the fifth time this season he's reached the century mark.
Panthers experience Vikings-like frustration
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