If you did not know, now you know: the Carolina Panthers are terrible in close games. Under Ron Rivera, the Panthers are 2-14 in games decided by a touchdown or less. The late game collapse monster reared its ugly head again as Carolina lost to Buffalo, 24-23, on a last second drive.
In the deciding drive, Buffalo QB E.J. Manuel led the Bills on 1:36 minute, 80 yard drive with no timeouts. With six seconds left, Manuel found Stevie Johnson wide open in the end zone. A Hail Mary attempt by the Panthers went for naught, as Cam Newton was sacked on the final play.
And it all started so promising too.
In a departure from last week, the Carolina Panthers opened up their offensive playbook against the Buffalo Bills. And it was a bag of mixed results.
Newton and the Panthers started strong in the first quarter, taking the first possession deep into Bills territory. An interception to Bills LB Kiko Alonso changed everything, taking the momentum with them.
The Panthers’ abysmal first half was littered with an incredible amount of missed deep throws, stuffed runs, and Mario Williams pressures. Williams ended with 4.5 sacks on the day, and terrorizing Byron Bell and Newton all day.
But they came back. Newton ended the first half with laser touchdown pass to TE Greg Olsen, to take a lead into halftime, 7-3. Newton came back around in the 3rd quarter and aired out a 40 yard touchdown pass to WR Ted Ginn, Jr. The magic would end for the offense in the second half, as three drives in Buffalo territory ended in Graham Gano field goals.
The defense stepped up in a big way, as safety Quintin Mikell forced a fumble and LB Luke Kuechly an interception on Manuel. Unfortunately, these turnovers in Buffalo territory only led to 6 points. Couple that with a late, game-sealing interception by safety Colin Jones negated by a pass interference on Kuechly, and the Panthers fell short.
All in all, this was the worst case scenario for the Panthers and all their fans. Not only was this another late game loss, but injuries were suffered by Charles Johnson, Josh Norman, Mikell, and Josh Thomas. And they head into a huge game next week against the New York Giants, who pummeled them last year, before the bye week. Even for the most optimistic of Panthers fans, hope looks dim for this season.
Greg Olsen, 7 rec, 84 yards, 1 TD
Panthers Who Stood Out
DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Ted Ginn, Jr., Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Charles Johnson, Quintin Mikell, Gano
Panthers Who Struggled
Cam Newton on deep passes, Byron Bell, Jon Beason, pass coverage