In lieu of last night's 36-7 drubbing the Giants put on the Panthers in prime time, many fans seem to think the season is officially over. Over the many years I have been following this blog, I have come to respect many members of the CSR community for their levelheadedness and insight into the game of football. Unfortunately we are all human, and after a showing like the one put on last night many of us have fallen into a state of denial, panic, and/or depression. I have been a Panthers fan their entire life and most of mine. I watched every game the year they went 1-15 and cried after every loss (cut me some slack, I was 11). One thing I have learned is that, in the NFL especially, anything can happen. We need look no farther than our most recent counterparts to see that. Let's take a trip back to 2007 and follow the New York Giants.
After a preseason that saw the G Men finish with a 1-3 record (including a loss to the Panthers), the Giants opened the season on the road against a divisional opponent and it didn't exactly go as planned (sound familiar?). They left Dallas 0-1 and headed home to take on the Green Bay Packers. After a 35-13 beat down at home, the Giants sat at 0-2 and the sky was falling. Tom Coughlin was on the hot seat, people questioned Eli Manning's abilities, the defense with a lot of talent was underachieving. They went into Washington and were able to sneak out with a win. So three weeks into the season, the Giants were 1-1 in their division and had a non-divisional opponent embarrass them at home. The Panthers are currently 1-1 in the division and a non-divisional opponent just embarrassed them at home.
The Giants were able to pull it together for a while and headed into their Week 9 bye at 6-2. They did not, however, cruise the rest of the season. They opened the second half of their season with a loss to the hated Cowboys at home, then squeaked past the Lions in Detroit the following week. Then came a visit from the Vikings. At home, in the Meadowlands, sitting pretty at 7-3, the Giants hosted the 4-6 Vikes. The Giants were pummeled 41-17. Another embarrassing home loss on their record, the G Men were deflated. They played .500 football the rest of the season to finish 10-6 and were able to limp into the playoffs as a wildcard team.
We all know what happened from there. The Giants were able to do just enough to win four in a row, each by ten points or less. The last three of those wins were regular season redemption games against the Cowboys, Packers and Patriots, who had combined to go 4-0 against the Giants that year. The miracle that was the David Tyree catch led to the game-winning score, the perfect Patriots were foiled in their pursuit of football immortality, and the Giants were on top of the world. After being embarrassed TWICE at home, the Giants rebounded and made plays when it counted. And they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy because of it.
The Panthers just got embarrassed, folks. A good team took them to school on their own home turf. It happens. Welcome to the NFL. Ryan Kalil put a lot of hope into this fan base with his ad in the CO. A lot of that hope is gone now after one game in Week 3. I don't understand it. Yes, it was frustrating and the Panthers have a lot of work to do. But don't jump off the train just yet. It ain't over 'til it's over. If we learned anything from the 2007 Giants, it's to never write anybody off. Three games down, thirteen to go. It's far from over, Panther fans. Don't jump.