Plays to Love, Plays to Hate highlights the plays that have a significant impact in swinging momentum and impacting the eventual outcome of the game. There’s always plenty to hate about NFL officiating, so we will only focus on the plays on the field, not the refs. Let’s review the momentum-shifting plays that led to the Panthers pulling defeat from the jaws of victory in Week 12.
Three plays to love
Kerr’s strip sack gives Chinn a third quarter touchdown: The Panthers trailed 10-7 early in the third quarter. The Panthers offense was terrible the entire first half with Teddy Bridgewater going 7-of-15 for 96 yards, and 41 of those came on a short pass Robby Anderson took to the house. The Vikings took possession to start the second half and on the third play from scrimmage Zach Kerr ran a nice stunt with Shaq Thompson, and Kerr swallowed up Kirk Cousins for a strip sack. Jeremy Chinn scooped up the fumble and took it in for a 17-yard touchdown and a 14-10 Panthers lead. Chinn gets the glory for the touchdown, but this was Zach Kerr’s play.
Chinn’s fumble recovery touchdown in the third quarter: This was simply incredible, but on the Vikings very next play from scrimmage after Chinn’s scoop-and-score, Jeremy Chinn stripped Dalvin Cook, recovered the fumble, and took it 28 yards for a touchdown. Back-to-back fumble returns for touchdowns by the same player just don’t happen in football. It had been 72 years since a player had scored two touchdowns in the same game on fumble recoveries, and Chinn did it on two consecutive plays. Just amazing. In the span of 10 seconds, the Panthers went from trailing 10-7 to winning 21-10 without their offense even taking the field.
Beebe’s muffed punt in the fourth quarter: The Panthers were nursing a tenuous 24-21 lead and were forced to punt with 2:18 left in the game. Vikings returner Chad Beebe muffed the punt and Myles Hartsfield made a clutch recovery at the Minnesota nine yard line. With the muffed punt it felt like the Vikings were simply willing to hand this game over the Panthers on a silver platter. Alas, after some dubious coaching decisions, Carolina couldn’t close it out.
Three plays to hate
Teddy’s second quarter end zone pick: The Panthers trailed 7-0 early in the second quarter. Carolina’s offense had put together a 10-play drive down to the Minnesota 12. On third-and-11 Mike Davis and Robby Anderson ran a crossing route and it looked like Davis stopped or adjusted his route a bit. Teddy Bridgewater threw the ball to where it looked like Davis should’ve been, but instead going to Davis the ball hit Eric Kendricks right in the hands for a back-breaking interception.
Slye’s third quarter blocked field goal: The Panthers had a commanding 21-10 lead late in the third quarter. Carolina had driven down to the Minnesota 10 yard line but their drive stalled. Joey Slye attempted a chip shot field goal but it was blocked when DJ Wonnum slipped between the left guard and tackle and snuffed out the kick. It was the second time on the day that the Panthers got to within the Minnesota 10 yard line and came away with zero points.
No. 3-A, Terrible late coaching decisions - Brady’s clock management: The Panthers led 24-21 with 2:26 left in the game. Carolina had the ball with 2nd-and-14 from their own 49 and the Vikings only had one timeout remaining. On second down Joe Brady called a pass which was incomplete and stopped the clock. Another incompletion followed on 3rd-and-14, forcing the Panthers to punt with 2:18 left - still somehow on the wrong side of the two minute warning - and Minnesota preserved its lone, precious timeout. That’s when Chad Beebe muffed the punt, giving Carolina possession at the Minnesota nine yard line. A run on first down forced the Vikings to use their final timeout (which they should’ve been forced to use earlier!) and a run on second down brought the two-minute warning. On third-and-goal Teddy Bridgewater missed an open DJ Moore in the end zone. Carolina then kicked a field goal with 1:54 left to go up 27-21. In the end, when the clock is key and Minnesota only had one timeout left, Joe Brady dialed up incomplete passes with 2:26, 2:23, and 1:56 remaining. But Brady’s dubious clock mismanagement could’ve been covered up, except for:
No. 3-B, Terrible late coaching decisions - Snow’s putrid three-man rush: The Vikings got the ball back trailing by six with 1:54 left and zero timeouts. So what does Phil Snow do once again? HE DIALS UP THE WORST DEFENSE IN FOOTBALL - A THREE-MAN RUSH WITH A SOFT ZONE! Unsurprisingly to everyone on the planet not named Phil Snow, the Vikings picked up the following yardage on successive plays - 15, 6, 7, 12, 25. The Vikings gained 65 yards in 58 seconds to get down to the Carolina 10 yard line. They scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play. When the defense needed to be stout, it went soft. When Phil Snow had a chance to make plays to win the game, he instead played not to lose.
Closing it out and summing it up
Don’t blame Joey Slye for missing a potential game-winning 54-yard field goal as time expired, and don’t let the close final score fool you. This was a terribly managed game by the Panthers in all three facets - offense, defense, and special teams. The only reason Carolina was in this game was because of Jeremy Chinn’s fluky back-to-back defensive touchdowns.
I feel like I’m saying this too often now, but Matt Rhule, Joe Brady, and Phil Snow need to be better than this. How does an offense with this many weapons only generate just 13 points, and three of them were gift-wrapped on the Beebe muffed punt? While I give Phil Snow credit for managing a defense of rookies and journeymen, he did them no favors with his late play calling. This includes leaving overwhelmed rookie Stantley Thomas-Oliver on an island in the fourth quarter when he gave up a crucial third-and-10 conversion followed by a late touchdown reception.
At 4-8 the Carolina Panthers have now lost games by four, three, two, and one point, respectively. They are literally a couple of big plays here and there from having a winning record. That’s both encouraging for a rebuilding team and incredibly frustrating. With a bye week coming up, let’s hope some extra time in the film room helps this rookie coaching staff be better prepared to close out the final quarter of the season.
Which play to hate had the biggest impact on the Panthers loss?
This poll is closed
Teddy’s second quarter end zone pick
Slye’s third quarter blocked field goal
No. 3-A, Terrible late coaching decisions - Brady’s clock management
No. 3-B, Terrible late coaching decisions - Snow’s putrid three-man rush