Carolina Panthers Endure Thursday Night Let Down

By Robert Kester
Bob Donnan-US Presswire

The anticipation was soaring for the Carolina Panthers as they headed into what was supposed to be an intense matchup with the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.

Instead, the Giants came out hungry, playing unfazed football despite the absence of four key starters, torching the Panthers, 36-7. All of the advantages pointed in favor of Carolina going into Thursday night. They didn’t have to travel during the short week and were facing a Giants team that was clearly banged up.

The Panthers had an opportunity to build on their win from week two, but dropped the ball, in what was a pure let down in primetime.

The take away points from this game appear gloomy, leaving the Panthers shaking their heads, now having to bounce back from the loss for what seems to be a rocky road ahead.

Carolina suffered from what has plagued them for almost three seasons now. They couldn’t stop the run against the Giants. Even though it looked as if Thursday could be opening to establish some momentum on defense, the Panthers faltered, allowing New York to have their way on the ground.

The Giants were without running back Ahmad Bradshaw, setting the stage for Andre Brown to have the opportunity for a break-out performance. He did just that, rushing for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 carries.

Brown’s showcase on the field last night truly exposed Carolina’s issues up front with their four down linemen. The Panthers are talented at linebacker and in their secondary, but have no threats on the front line to stop the run or for that matter rush the quarterback.

New York’s Eli Manning put on a clinic last night, going 27/35 for 288 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers got zero pressure on Manning for most of the night, allowing the two-time Super Bowl MVP to pick Carolina apart with calmness and ease. The thing that stood out the most for Manning was his ability to play un-rattled without star receivers Domenik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks. Manning, instead targeted receiver Ramses Barden often for nine receptions for 138 yards. A true coming out party was thrown last night for two relatively unknowns in Brown and Barden. The Panthers weren’t notified before hand of such festivities.

On the flipside, Carolina’s Cam Newton faced heated pressure for most of the night, resulting in three interceptions, two sacks and no passing touchdowns.

A rough night to say the least for Newton, who said after the game, “If I was a fan of the Carolina Panthers I’d be holding my head down in shame.”

Frustration might be the word Panthers fans are using this morning. A clear chance for Carolina to establish themselves as a playoff contender, they fell way short of the high expectations that surrounded them prior to kick-off on Thursday night.

Probably a little early to throw dirt on the Panthers’ 2012 season just yet, but the shovel will be close by if they can’t fix their problems during their long preparation time before week four rolls around.

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