The Carolina Panthers took a tough loss to the Kansas City Chiefs due to a lack of momentum in the second half.
At 3-6, the truth is in the record: the Carolina Panthers are in trouble. While four teams in history have found a way to rally from that disastrous record to make the playoffs, the situation continues to look more and more bleak for the Charlotte-based organization. The team suffered a heartbreaking loss against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs as they allowed 17 points in the fourth quarter. Throughout this game, the growing trend of turnover after turnover hampered the opportunity to walk out with a victory.
Reviewing the box score and game tape shows clear mistakes that limited how successful the Panthers would be in this game. From Eric Berry’s pick-six to Kelvin Benjamin’s fumble that led to the game winning touchdown, the Panthers seem to keep creating holes that allow teams to escape what should be another Carolina victory.
Even without the strongest defense or offense according to statistics, the Chiefs have found a way to a 7-2 record this year. Early in this game the Panthers looked like the team to hamper that offense, as they held KC to only three points in the first half. More importantly, the Panthers offense looked like it was ready to end the stagnation that has hampered it for much of the year. Carolina scored 17 points in the first half and went into the locker room with a 17-3 lead.
The second half would be a different story as the Panthers allowed the Chiefs to get back into the game. While the two turnovers mentioned above stand out as major plot points that cost Carolina this game, Chris Jones also had a big sack that pushed Carolina out of field goal range and the opportunity to increase their lead late. Carolina has struggled on the offensive line all season, allowing 27 total sacks on the year. That point was the catalyst that allowed the Chiefs back to this game and removed all of the momentum built by the Panthers.
In a larger sense, this game is a microcosm of the issues that have plagued Carolina throughout the year. In 2015 the team was damaged with injuries, but found a way to rally to a great season. This year, the Panthers have a strong roster on paper, but that roster hasn’t translated to the field. It’s these same mistakes that continue to run rampant on both sides of the ball. Many are pointing towards Newton’s drop off in performance, while others point to the holes left in the defense due to youth and inexperience. With the amount of talent listed up and down this team, it’s a struggle to find all of the needed solutions.
With a quick turnaround against the tough New Orleans Saints scheduled for Thursday, the Panthers can’t look back to this loss for too long. Still, there needs to be a wholesale adjustment made across this team to pull the ship together if they are to become the fifth team in NFL history to make the postseason after such a rough start.