The Panthers certainly showed up to play football today against the Raiders, and for the most part they didn’t look like a complete dumpster fire, which is a modest improvement over the 2019 team that was pretty terrible over the final stretch of games. I liked a lot of what I saw from this team. I wrote earlier today that I wanted to see three things: heart, fight and progress, and I think I saw those three things today.
There were some aspects of this Panthers team that were very good. Pharoh Cooper was a breath of fresh air in the return game. Teddy Bridgewater looked good under center. Jeremy Chinn was all over the field on defense. Robby Anderson is already worth the contract we gave him thanks to a 75-yard touchdown reception that kept the Panthers within striking distance of a win late in the game.
Sure, there were some kinks that need to be ironed out, but that’s to be expected for such a young team. We didn’t win today, but one thing is for sure — we looked like we belonged, and at this point that’s all I think we can really ask for.
Fourth quarter: Panthers 30 - Raiders 34
The Panthers started the quarter with a third down play after picking up a few yards to get out of second-and-25 thanks to Moore’s dumb taunting penalty. The first play was a first down throw to McCaffrey who ended up inside the LV 15-yard line.
Some good news: The Panthers didn’t need to burn a timeout due to the play clock until 12:49 left in the game. That’s improvement, and it should be noted.
The Panthers took advantage of McCaffrey’s elite abilities to pull back to within one score with plenty of time left in the game. The extra point was good and the Panthers were back within five at 27-22.
The Panthers defense needed a big play and they got one as Rasul Douglas broke up a pass on third down to force the Raiders to punt. The defense did their job and gave the offense a chance to take the lead with just under 10 minutes to go.
The Panthers struck with a huge 75-yard touchdown pass from Bridgewater to Anderson and took the lead. They went for two to try and make it a three-point game and were successful to make it a 30-27 game with 8:29 left.
Tre Boston almost got flagged for pass interference but the refs picked up the flag (it made no sense to throw it in the first place) and the Panthers had a huge third down opportunity to make a stop. The pass was incomplete but a penalty flag was thrown for pass interference on Tahir Whitehead and it gave the Raiders a first down.
The penalty was costly as Josh Jacobs scampered in to the end zone shortly thereafter and gave the Raiders the lead again. A made extra point gave the Raiders a 34-30 lead with just 4:08 left in regulation.
Cooper had another solid kick return to start the Panthers out at their own 30-yard line. McCaffrey picks up another chunk of yardage on the first play from scrimmage for a first down that put the Panthers near midfield. At the 2:00 warning the Panthers were down by four points with two timeouts.
The Panthers were obviously in fourth down territory and had to convert a huge fourth-and-inches play to keep the drive going. The Panthers ran arguably the worst play in that situation — a fullback dive with Alex Armah — and failed to pick up the first down. The Raiders had the ball with 1:11 left and pretty much sealed the game from there.
Third quarter: Panthers 15 - Raiders 27
The Panthers started the second half on offense and got hit with an illegal double team block penalty, which caused them to start the drive deep in their own territory. The Panthers weren’t able to overcome that and ended up with their first three-and-out on the day.
It got a bit worse as Hunter Renfrow returned the punt to midfield and gave the Raiders good field position for their opening drive. The Panthers defense held their ground thanks to an intentional grounding penalty to force a 54-yard field goal attempt that gave the Raiders a 20-15 lead with 9:38 left in the quarter.
The Panthers weren’t able to get anything going on their second drive of the half thanks to a holding penalty on Michael Schofield, and had to punt for the second straight time in the half. To make matters worse, the Panthers were slapped with another 15-yard penalty on the punt thanks to the gunner going out of bounds before making contact with another player, so the Raiders had good field position again.
The Raiders made the Panthers pay this time as Josh Jacobs roasted Shaq Thompson on a route to pick up a huge gain, and then makes it even worse for the Panthers by walking it into the end zone a few plays later. The Raiders tacked on the extra point to extend their lead to 27-15 with 5:29 left in the quarter.
The Panthers have responded with a solid drive and have even picked up a first down on fourth-and-1, but then DJ Moore made a costly mistake with a taunting penalty that set them back 15 yards with 0:04 left in the quarter.
Second quarter: Panthers 15 - Raiders 17
Derrick Brown made his first big play by batting down a David Carr pass at the line of scrimmage. Hopefully we see a lot more of that.
The Raiders have driven down inside the CAR 10-yard line again and threatened to score, but the Panthers defense held strong and forced a field goal attempt on fourth down. The Raiders converted the chance to take a 10-9 lead with 8:36 left in the quarter.
The first penalty flag of the game came out due to pass interference on a deep pass to Christian McCaffrey on third-and-7 that gave the Panthers a first down. Bridgewater avoided a sack on the very next play and scrambled for another first down to keep the Panthers moving forward. The drive stalled after two straight incompletions, though, and the Panthers were forced to try a field goal to re-take the lead. The kick was good and the Panthers took a 12-10 lead with 5:03 to go in the quarter.
The Raiders responded with a solid drive that ended in a go-ahead touchdown with 1:54 left in the half, as Carr found Nelson Agholor in the end zone for a touchdown to give the Raiders a 17-12 lead.
The Panthers put together a decent looking drive in the two-minute drill to try and get something before the half. They were unable to get into the end zone to take the lead, but they did manage to pull a bit closer with a field goal to make the score 17-15 at halftime. The Panthers will get the ball to start the second half.
First quarter: Panthers 9 - Raiders 7
The Panthers started the game on defense and looked pretty good on the opening series by forcing the Raiders into a three-and-out. Pharoh Cooper provided the offense with some decent field position by returning the punt to the CAR 38-yard line.
Teddy Bridgewater’s first pass was a strike to Robby Anderson on first down for 11 yards, so the offense also got off to a pretty decent start. Curtis Samuel has looked pretty good on the first drive, especially after grabbing a 16-yard pass from Bridgewater on third-and-7 to pick up a big first down to put the Panthers in Raiders territory for the first time today.
The drive ended prematurely but the Panthers were able to take a 3-0 lead on a 47-yard field goal by Joey Slye with 10:02 left in the quarter.
The second drive hasn’t been as kind to the defense. Henry Ruggs was able to find himself wide open deep down the field to set up the Raiders with a first-and-goal at the CAR 1-yard line. The Raiders took the lead on the next play when Josh Jacobs bulldozed into the end zone. The extra point was good and the Raiders took a 7-3 lead with 5:47 left in the quarter.
In other bad news, Donte Jackson walked off the field with trainers after the play. Hopefully he’s alright, because the secondary is thin enough as it is.
Pharoh Cooper seems to enjoy being a kick/punt returner. He brought the kickoff out to the CAR 35 to give the Panthers decent field position for their second drive on offense.
I have to say — I’m impressed with the offense so far. There have been a few mistakes but overall it’s promising. The Panthers reached the red zone for the first time today with 3:00 left in the quarter. Christian McCaffrey took a handoff on third-and-1 from inside the 10-yard line and took care of business, giving the Panthers their first touchdown of the season and restoring their lead over the Raiders. A missed extra point made the game 9-7 in favor of the Panthers.
The Panthers and Raiders are expected to kick off at 1 p.m. ET, so stay tuned for a rolling update that will be published at the conclusion of each quarter, and will eventually morph into the final game recap once the final whistle has sounded.
Game day information
What: Carolina Panthers vs Las Vegas Raiders
When: Sunday, September 13 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
TV: CBS; Greg Gumble, Rich Gannon (coverage map)
Streaming: FuboTV, CBS All Access (tv login req.), Yahoo! Sports, Panthers mobile app
Radio: Panthers radio (local); Mick Mixon
Spanish Radio: Panthers radio (local); Jaime Moreno, Luis Moreno Jr
Weather: 84° / Scattered T’storms / 5 mph S wind / 40% rain (complete forecast)