The Panthers self-destructed in the fourth quarter in route to a 20-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
For three quarters of football the Panthers looked like their season could take a swing for the playoffs. The mood around Bank of America Stadium felt warm and chipper despite a grey rain beacause the Panthers were beating the socks off of the Chiefs.
The Panthers jumped to a 17-0 lead, Cam Newton brought back the famous “dab” dance after he scored a touchdown and those hopes of winning the rest of the season seemed like a possibility. This feeling lasted late into the third quarter where
But two back to back drives unraveled the Panthers and cast them back into the mire of a 3-6 reality.
The first started as a textbook case of brilliant play calling. Ron Rivera, with a 17-3 lead, kept the Kansas City offense on the bench for almost an entire quarter with an outstandingly slow drive. The Panthers drove the ball 58 yards on 20 plays bleeding 10 minutes of the clock. But in the red zone the Panthers self-destructed. Cam Newton took a -1 yard loss on a run to the side lines and then got sacked twice in a row to pull the offense outside of field goal range and they had to punt. Drives like this don’t kill a game on their own but it certainly rattled the Panthers. The timer was set 15 minutes until self destruct.
On the Panthers next drive Cam Newton forced a throw, that Eric Berry intercepted and took 42-yards to the end zone to bring the Chiefs within a single score to tie the game 17-10. All the momentum from dabbing and driving effectively lost.
The Panthers had the ball three more times and any points at all would have helped stop the destruction sequence. The offense went on a two drives that culminated in less than 40 total yards before Marcus Peters stripped the ball from Kelvin Benjamin on the 34 yard line.
If there was any hope that the Panthers could resurrect this season they lost it in those two drives. Now 3-6 the Panthers are all but eliminated from the playoffs. On a bright note? The Falcons and Saints both lost so there is a narrow path to the top of the NFC South.
Listen to what the players had to say about the game:
Greg Olsen says Panthers “self-destructed”
Tre Boston says Panther playing with cards they are dealt
Cam Newton backs are up against the wall