Last night the Panthers defeated the Ravens 34-27 in the 3rd preseason game of the 2013 season, bringing their preseason record to 2-1 and guaranteeing that they will at least have a .500 record in the quartet of "meaningless games" before the regular season begins in a few weeks.
Here are five things that stood out to me after watching last night's game:
The offense is still a huge question mark
There were a lot of things wrong with the offense last night, but if you watched the game you already know that. However, it cannot be stated enough that there are issues that have to be resolved if the Panthers want to be a competitive team in 2013. The offensive line was a dumpster fire, the playcalling was way too vanilla for the 3rd preseason game, and the lack of execution by some of the starters was infuriating.
The "it's only the preseason" line of thought can only apply for so long. The preseason is almost over, after all.
Something has to be fixed, and it needs to happen soon.
The defense came to play big boy football
The defense showed up to play last night, forcing turnovers and taking advantage of their opportunities to put points on the board when they forced the Ravens into making mistakes. Seeing the cornerbacks get pick sixes was a beautiful sight. Hopefully they can ride that momentum into the regular season, because based on what we've seen out of the offense so far we're going to need a defense that can force turnovers and put points on the board.
Special teams finally generated some points
Ted Ginn ignited the team with a punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter. It was refreshing to see the Panthers scoring a touchdown on a punt return instead of giving up one. Hopefully we see more of that from Ginn when the games actually matter.
Star Lotulelei is living up to his billing
He looked good holding the point of attack and stuffing the run. Panthers Nation has been stoked since his name was called on draft day, and games like he had last night give us plenty of reason to be excited. He was in the backfield for the majority of the time he was in the game, and you could see the impact he was having on the opposing team's offense.
Luke Kuechly is a monster
Really, he's a monster. There's not much more I can say. He played like a man possessed last night. My favorite play was his interception in response to the 15 yard penalty he got for unnecessary roughness on Aaron Mellette, but especially the part where he GOT UP AND SPUN THE BALL IN THE DIRT Y'ALL OMG IT WAS AMAZING!
Seriously, Luke Kuechly showed up and took over last night. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see him unleash the fury when the games actually mean something.
One thing I've noticed about Kuechly is that it seems he always goes into beast mode right after the officials take something away from him via penalty. During the game I was thinking this was an odd coincidence, but then it hit me: Luke Kuechly isn't Clark Kent, he's Bruce Banner.
Don't make him angry; you won't like him when he's angry.
That wraps up this edition of the Friday Five. What are some things you saw in last night's game? Feel free to sound off with your thoughts in the comments section!