The 2014 Carolina Panthers hung in there for three quarters with the Seattle Seahawks. As in, the 2013 Super Bowl champs and 2nd seed in the 2014 playoffs. It all unfortunately hit the fan in the 4th, and all the experts and analysts will say Cam Newton played a bad game, and that the Panthers got blown out. But a few flags thrown/not picked up, a few bad turnovers gone, maybe we're looking at a different story.
Cam Newton played well for the most part in my opinion,. Unfortunately he made a couple of mistakes that a team like Seattle will make you pay for, turning the ball over for what turned into points. His supporting cast didn't help him much today, as the protection allowed him to be under pressure many times and his defense unfortunately couldn't make up for the mistakes that were made. The Panthers young secondary allowed two touchdowns in the first half that could have been avoided, but such is life for NFL rookies. Without Star Lotulelei the Panthers front seven couldn't get pressure on Russell Wilson. Kelvin Benjamin played well when called upon, but the story for most of the roster remains the same; we simply aren't there yet.
The 2014 Panthers made history as the first repeat NFC South Champions since it's inception. They made history by making the playoffs in back to back seasons, something no other Panthers coaching staff was able to do. Even with coaching staff and talent deficiencies, this Panthers squad came in and won a playoff game for the first time in a decade, and that's enough for me. The realist in me didn't predict a Panthers win, and while the fan in me wanted to believe, I knew this team is trending upward but unfortunately not quite there. Panthers fans across the nation will feel terrible about this loss, especially with how close the game was for the first three quarters. But there is one thing to remember and take solace in; the team can only get better from here. The offensive line will be addressed, the secondary will be addressed, and the weapons at Cam's disposal will be addressed. This bandaged and duct taped team will need some polish, but the pieces are there. The Panthers found an awesome talent in Kelvin Benjamin, who clearly showed up to play today. Their draft class nearly all stepped in to contribute, while guys like Philly Brown and Andrew Norwell should stick around as good depth. It would be great to win and move on to the NFC Championship, but this team simply wasn't ready talent wise or coaching wise.
Let's remember the 2014 Panthers as a team that kept pounding when it seemed the season was lost. Let's remember this Panthers team that won a playoff game for the first time in what should be a long career for Cam Newton. It's a tough pill to swallow, but as fans we need to Keep Pounding just as much as the players do. From all of us at CSR, thank you for following along with us in what turned out to be a wild season. Cheers.