Panthers Lose Another Heartbreaker

Photo Cred: Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times

Photo Cred: Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times

A week after a very tough loss to the Detroit Lions, the Carolina Panthers dropped another close game, this time to the Seattle Seahawks.  This marks the third loss in a row for the Panthers and the first loss at home this season.  Panthers-Seahawks games are ALWAYS really great games, but for whatever reason, the Seahawks always tend to come out on top.  I mentioned this fact in my preview yesterday, which is why I predicted a three point Seahawks victory.  But instead of the usual defensive game these two teams play, today was more of an offensive shootout.

The Panthers moved the ball well all game long, but struggled to capitalize early with just a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.  The second quarter is when things started to heat up a little.  Early in the 2nd, Seattle tied the game with a field goal of their own.  The Panthers would finally find the endzone with a touchdown pass from Cam Newton to receiver Curtis Samuel to give the Panthers a 10-3 advantage.  The lead didn’t last long, though with the Seahawks answering with a touchdown of their own, courtesy of running back Chris Carsen.  But the Panthers came right back with a string of passes to Christian McCaffrey to set up a Graham Gano field goal right before halftime.

The Panthers began the second half with a drive that promised to put up some points, but Newton was intercepted by an acrobatic play from Bradley McDougald.  The Seahawks would get back in the endzone on the ensuing drive to take their first lead of the day, 17-13.  Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey couldn’t be stopped, however.  The key to the game in my game preview, McCaffrey kept proving to everyone that he is one of the best running backs in the game, racking up 125 rushing yards, 112 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.  One of his touchdowns came right before the end of the 3rd quarter, giving the Panthers a 20-17 lead going into the final quarter.

Halfway through the 4th, McCaffrey would score his second touchdown of the game with a reception from Cam Newton to put the Panthers ahead 27-20.  But with their backs against the wall on a 4th and 3, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson dropped a 35-yard dime to David Moore to tie the game up at 27.  The Panthers had their chance towards the end of the game, but Gano couldn’t connect on a 52 yard field goal.  This left the Seahawks a small chance to win the game before overtime would’ve occurred, and they took full advantage of it.  After a huge 43-yard pass from Wilson to Tyler Lockett set up a chance for a game winning 31-yard field goal, veteran kicker Sebastian Janikowski came in clutch like he has so many times in his career to give the victory to the Seahawks.

This was another heartbreaker for the Panthers, who had opportunities to win this game.  But just like in their previous matchups with Seattle, it seems to always be the Seahawks who make the most of their opportunities.  This makes the NFC playoff race real interesting with the Seahawks now jumping over the Panthers for a wildcard spot.  Panthers fans need to pull for any teams who play against the Redskins, Packers, Seahawks, and Eagles from here on out.  Like I predicted in my preview though, I do still believe the Panthers make the playoffs, but they have some work to do.  They really need to win the next two weeks against the Buccaneers and a hot Cleveland Browns team.  The biggest problem for the Panthers over the next five games is they have to play the Saints twice.  I have a good feeling the Panthers will beat them once, but they MUST take care of business against the other teams remaining on their schedule if they want to capture one of the wildcard spots.  Until next week Panther Nation, keep pounding.