Panthers Smith: 'We're Going to See Them Again'

Grant Halverson

The Panthers outspoken WR did not waste time weighing in on the Panthers 12-7 loss to the Seahawks.

When Smith gets vocal you never know which Smitty you might get. He was angry Smitty after Armond Smith's second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the camera caught him chewing him out hard. Smith deserved it though for making yet another bone headed mistake. Smith wasn't angry though it turns out.

See, Smitty knows one game does not make a season:

Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith predicts playoff rematch - ESPN
"I stand on this: I think we're going to see them again deep in January," Smith said as he looked for a positive in the loss. "If we continue to play like we're playing, eliminate some of the penalties, eliminate some of the mistakes ... for us to have played that team that is considered by all accounts the best team in the NFL -- according to Skip Bayless, the best AFC team around. ... If that's the best team, we came down to the [final minutes] and it was a well-fought game."

"Our season is not over," Smith said. "If that means the season is over I'm not sure what kind of football y'all are used to around here. That's not a quitting team."

Asked a few minutes later if Carolina was a playoff team, Smith barked, "I didn't stutter. There was no slur in my speech."

Yes he basically said he thinks the Panthers will make the playoffs. That in my view is player-speak after a tough loss but is what the national pundits will focus on. My focus is on this comment:

"That's not a quitting team."

This element is much more important than talking about playoffs. [cue the famous Mora 'Playoffs!' interview] Now this comment might also be labeled as player speak...if is was coming from someone else. Steve Smith is never one to throw around undeserved pleasantries. I can assure you he wouldn't be throwing around these types of positive comments if he didn't mean it. I think this team has what it takes if what Smith says actually happens; meaning they eliminate the stupid penalties and mistakes and finally maximize their opportunities. That might be expecting a lot.

Me personally I'm trying my best not to get down on the team. As I said in my admittedly crappy post game recap this game felt eerily like last seasons Seattle game or any of the early season losses. The Panthers put themselves in a position to win for one reason or another can't get it done. If Williams doesn't fumble the assumption is that Panthers would have scored a TD, taken the lead and then held off the Seahawks for the 14-12 victory. But can you really assume that would happen. 1st down on the 8-yard line is hardly a gimme against the Seahawks. There was still four minutes on the clock. The Seahawks could have kicked a game winning FG in the time left.

That's why I have a hard time pinning this loss on Williams, or Armond Smith or Frank Alexander. Did they makes some bad plays? Yes, no question. But they were not the reason the Panthers had scored a measly 7 points with only five minutes remaining in the game. If any Panther fan gets some kind of moral victory by playing a SB favorite close then that is great for you. I'm sick and tired of them myself. In the end if was one missed opportunity after another.

Though I could pick any one of a number of flaws exposed by this game the one that bothers me the most at the moment is how timid the offense gets when they get a lead. When we play with a sense of purpose we seem to play better. When we get a lead we play to not lose and I our play calling gets timid, or is the better word 'conservative'? For example, midway through the 3rd quarter the Panthers were stopped inches short of a first down but had been running the ball well. We were on our won 34 yard line so Rivera elected to punt but you could sense that the Panthers could have made those 6 inches at that point. Armond Smith then made his first blunder essentially negating most of the benefit of the punt.

Then early in the 4th quarter Cam made a great scramble to get 10 of the 12 yards needed for a first down. Again Rivera elected to punt even though they were at the 50 yard line. It was here that Armond Smith made his second blunder costing the Panthers another 15 yards in field position after the re-punt. So in both decisions Rivera is doing the safe play and it bites him in the arse both times. Is that just bad luck or bad coaching I'm not sure.

I don't have the answers beyond pointing out the obvious as Smitty did. Maybe it just is that simple, eliminate the mistakes. I might go much deeper than that though. The good news is Smitty sees no quit in this team. The bad news is the Panthers hit to road to try and change their luck in Buffalo with the same coaching staff that seems snake bitten at best. The question is how long can Rivera hold this team together if the losses start to pileup? I'll leave it at that as I really want to stay positive like Smitty. If he thinks it can happen than so do I.

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