The Panthers were unable to hold a 12 point lead going into the 4th quarter as the Bears capitalized on Panther miscues. Whether its the offense sputtering at the end of the game or the defense suddenly going soft this Panther team just can't make a play with the game on the line.
A shanked punt led to a Bears TD and then a Smitty slip led to a pick 6 and the lead was gone. Yet the offense rallied to get the lead back on Justin Medlock's fifth FG only to watch the Bears march down and kick the winner with 0:00 on the clock. This one would hurt if it hadn't happened multiple times already this season.
The defense was dominant early in this game getting 6 sacks and two turnovers. The first was a nice INT by rookie Josh Norman. It was the first of his career. Likewise DE Greg Hardy might have had the best half of his career, getting 3 sacks. DE Charles Johnson added 2 sacks and a forced fumble and recovery.
The offense managed to move the chains against the Bears defense but too often settled for FGs instead of scoring touch downs. Though the Panthers were 10 for 19 on 3rd down (52%) they could only punch it into the end zone once and they almost blew that one too when Newton fumbled the ball just before crossing the goal line.
A runner up here has to be the prevent, soft coverage we played on defense on the last drive. How could we let them throw the same short left slant on 5 straight passes? It's totally maddening to watch.
I'm not sure which play was uglier the 6 yard punt by Nortman or the pick 6 by Newton. Probably the punt since the INT was more Smitty slipping than Newton's throw. The shank was the beginning of the end for the Panthers and given they way everyone is on a short leash in Carolina Nortman had better turn it around quickly.
We will look at individual performances later but for now...
This is Now a Post Game Open thread!