The Panthers came off their bye week and embarrassed themselves in front of their home crowd in their 32-27 loss to the Broncos. Carolina was putrid in all three phases of the game: they gave up a punt return touchdown, they allowed wide open receivers to score touchdowns all afternoon, and they couldn’t move the ball on offense when they needed to the most. This was arguably one of the worst played and worst coached games of the Matt Rhule tenure, and it’s a game that they’ll look back on with disgust.
The Panthers simply aren’t a good football team this year, and we all knew that going into Week 1, but the worst part of losing games like this is watching the Panthers get completely outclassed by another struggling team. The Broncos were 4-8 when this game started, just like the Panthers, but you’d have thought they were 9-3 and in contention for the playoffs based on the way they annihilated the Panthers defense. Drew Lock carved the defense apart all afternoon, and Teddy Bridgewater did his usual ‘throw the ball short and hope his playmaker can do something’ routine. The downside to that is the defense knows that’s what Teddy’s going to do, so it loses its effectiveness and makes the offense look incompetent.
I don’t know what else to say at this point other than there are only three more games left this season and the Panthers are looking like a team that will pick in the top 10 of the 2021 NFL Draft. That’s probably what they need to rebuild this team into a contender, but the journey to get there is going to be difficult to watch over the next three weeks. The Panthers travel to Lambeau Field to square off with the Packers on Saturday night, and hopefully they bring more fight with them than they had today, or it will get ugly in a hurry.
Fourth quarter: Panthers 27 Broncos 32
The Panthers continued their drive from the end of the third quarter and found the end zone when Bridgewater took a quarterback keeper on third down for a touchdown to keep the Panthers’ comeback hopes alive. The extra point was good and the Panthers trailed the Broncos 25-17 with 13:31 left in the game.
The defense did their job by getting off the field without surrendering points and keeping the offense within one score with plenty of time left to get back into the game. The offense started driving down the field with relative ease, but once again stalled in the red zone and settled for a field goal to make it a 25-20 game with 5:12 left in regulation.
The Broncos drove straight down the field and embarrassed the Panthers defense with another wide open receiver for a touchdown to extend their lead back to 12 points at 32-20 with 3:54 left in the game.
The Panthers responded with a touchdown of their own in just 28 seconds after a Mike Davis 10-yard run. Slye’s extra point was good and the Panthers were back within five points again at 32-27 with 3:26 left in regulation.
The Panthers defense did their job and got the ball back for the offense with 2:48 left. The Panthers used all three of their timeouts on defense, but they had the two minute warning as their lone “timeout” for the remainder of regulation. The offense was unable to pick up a first down on a fourth-and-8 play when Bridgewater threw well short of the sticks to Curtis Samuel, and the Broncos ran out the clock to preserve the win.
Third quarter: Panthers 10 Broncos 25
The Panthers started the second half on offense and promptly went three-and-out. To make matters worse for Carolina, the Broncos took over on offense and drove down the field en route to a touchdown that extended their lead to 19-7. Another missed extra point kept the score at 19-7 with 11:07 left in the quarter.
The Panthers responded with a decent drive of their own that stalled in Broncos territory, but not before Joey Slye was able to hit a 35-yard field goal to pull the Panthers to within nine points at 19-10 with 6:53 left in the quarter.
The Broncos fired back on offense and took advantage of poor coverage from the Panthers defense to drive down the field in quick fashion. The Broncos extended their lead on first-and-goal from the Carolina 2-yard line. The extra point was good on this score, but the Panthers jumped offsides and the Broncos elected to go for two instead. The two point conversion was no good and the Broncos maintained their 25-10 lead with 3:35 left in the quarter.
The Panthers started driving on offense but were unable to score before the third quarter came to a close. The Broncos led 25-10 as the fourth quarter began.
Second quarter: Panthers 7 Broncos 13
The Panthers ran two plays at the beginning of the second quarter and had to punt the ball back to the Broncos after failing to pick up a first down. Teddy Bridgewater took an unfortunate sack on second down to put them in a near unwinnable third-and-long situation that forced the Panthers to give the ball back to the Broncos’ offense.
The Broncos were driving down the field until Jeremy Chinn forced a fumble from Drew Lock, which was recovered by Efe Obada and returned to the Denver 3-yard line. On second-and-goal, Mike Davis bulldozed his way into the end zone to pull the Panthers even at 6-6. Joey Slye’s extra point was good to give the Panthers a 7-6 lead with 6:15 left in the half.
The Broncos drove down the field and benefited from two penalties by the Panthers — one deserved and one questionable — to take a 13-7 lead. Brian Burns was called for roughing the passer to extend the Broncos’ drive after a sack on third down (which was a dubious call at best), and Jermaine Carter gave the Broncos first-and-goal by taunting after making a huge play on Melvin Gordon. The Broncos scored on the very next play to extend their lead to 13-7 with 1:33 left in the half.
The Panthers were unable to put any points on the board with their final drive after a few terrible decisions by Teddy Bridgewater, so they had to go into the locker room down 13-7 at the half.
First quarter: Panthers 0 Broncos 6
The Panthers started the game on defense and did a good job at forcing the Broncos to punt after picking up one first down on their opening drive. The Panthers followed that up by going three-and-out on offense and then giving up a punt return touchdown on special teams to fall into an early deficit. The Broncos missed the extra point to keep the score at 6-0 with 10:18 left in the quarter.
Trenton Cannon made a mistake on the ensuing kickoff by catching the ball with his feet outside the end zone and had to return the kick, putting the Panthers at their own 15-yard line for their next drive. The Panthers managed to get to midfield but the drive stalled and they had to punt it back to the Broncos with 5:07 left in the quarter.
The defense did a good job to get the ball back after giving up one first down on Denver’s following drive. The defense made a key stop on by stuffing a Melvin Gordon run on third-and-1 to force the Broncos to punt the ball back to the Panthers.
The Panthers picked up a first down before time expired to end the quarter with the Broncos ahead 6-0.
The Panthers face the Broncos in Week 14 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Sunday, December 13 at 1 p.m. ET.
Game day information
What: Carolina Panthers vs Denver Broncos
When: Sunday, December 13 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
TV: CBS; Andrew Catalon, James Lofton (coverage map)
Streaming: FuboTV, CBS All Access, Yahoo! Sports, Panthers mobile app
Radio: Panthers radio (local); Mick Mixon
Spanish Radio: Panthers radio (local); Jaime Moreno, Antonio Ramos
Weather: 67° / AM Showers / 9 mph SW wind / 35% rain (complete forecast)
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