Any time the Panthers lose it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I want to forget about it as much as possible. This loss to the Vikings is no exception though I find myself thinking it could be a lot worse. You really didn't think the Panthers would go 16-0 did you? Of course not. The problem is that the Vikings exposed the Panthers weaknesses for all the league, and their future opponents to see. The Panther pass rush lacks teeth when it desperately needs a sack. The offensive line has trouble picking up blitzes when forced into obvious passing situations. QB Jake Delhomme can certainly have a bad day and look more like a journeyman than a Pro Bowl QB.
If there was ever a game with a game changing it was this one. The Panther defense had just held a Viking drive to a FG and were sitting on a 10-3 lead and looking fairly in control of this game. Then Vikings CB Antoine Winfield blind-sided Jake, who fumbled...and you know the rest. From there the offense went completely limp for the rest of the game as the Vikings contained the running game and caused Jake to misfire over and over.
More thoughts on the game:
- Penalties were a killer, like the one that negated a 90 yard Jonathan Stewart kick return. Add 6 more false start penalties. How many is that on the year, 12-15? What the hell is going on with the penalties?
One week after committing five false-start infractions against Chicago, the Panthers were whistled for six in Minnesota, representing half of the 12 penalties that were assessed against Carolina.
"It's frustrating because we work on it all week; we have crowd noise and all that stuff," said left tackle Jordan Gross. "I hope that's not the identity of our offensive unit, but so far, every week, we've had that same stuff happen. That's totally a mental thing, because that happens before the ball's even snapped.
- I knew the Panthers would have a hard time running the ball, but I at least thought they would try! They came out throwing I assume to loosen up the run game but then never committed to it. The offensive game plan left me scratching my head.
- Chris Harris had a great FG block that went for naught because the Panthers called time out right as the play commenced. It just wasn't our day.
- LT Jordan Gross struggled against DE Jared Allen. Allen had a sack, a tackle for a loss and 3 hurries.
- One positive is P Jason Baker is booming the ball and is now a league leader. Too bad he's getting so much work.
- How is it the Panthers get their best offensive player back and the offense goes into hibernation?
"You always want the nice story, but today wasn't the day," Smith said. "You've got to take it, dissect the tape -- whether we want to or not -- and look to improve on it. I think we will."
Added head coach John Fox: "I thought Steve had a good week of practice and preparation. We had some problems getting the football actually out of the quarterback's hands."
You can say that again. If it wasn't pressure from the Vikings (5 sacks) it was a fumbled snap, which lead to another turnover. I'm not afraid to point the finger, Jake had a bad game.
Everybody needs to review this tape and get ready for the Falcons. Now is not the time to get our confidence shaken. The Panthers should match up well with the Falcons. They need to plug those holes in the offensive line and once again figure out how to get a pass rush when you need it. I should have my score card out by Wednesday is not sooner.