The Carolina Panthers were week three’s opening sacrificial lamb, well at least for the NFC South. Carolina opened the slate of week three action on Thursday night by getting brutalized on their home field, 36-7, in a let down to end all let down type of losses to the New York Giants.
A loss so frustrating, it led Panthers veteran receiver Steve Smith to call out star quarterback Cam Newton on the sideline for having a sorry attitude on the bench. Not the greatest of week three scenarios for a Panthers team that was soaring from an impressive week two win from the previous Sunday.
Carolina’s Thursday night defeat didn’t destroy their entire season, although it might have felt that way for most Panthers fans.
No, the loss only provided Carolina with a 1-2 record. Leaving the Panthers hoping for some kind of let down to occur for the rest of their division come Sunday afternoon, and it did for two out of the remaining three teams that played yesterday.
First, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell victim on the road, despite a little help from an officials’ hat, to the Dallas Cowboys, 16-10, in a poor offensive showing that left many fans wondering if Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is a suitable starter in the NFL.
Tampa Bay’s loss on Sunday gives them their second straight loss. Even better for Panthers fans, the loss means the Buccaneers fall to 1-2. A little cushion for Carolina’s beat down from Thursday, but it gets better.
Second, Carolina’s week two victim, the New Orleans Saints joined the Cleveland Browns on Sunday as the only two win-less teams left this season. The Saints lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the meager Kansas City Chiefs, 27-24. The Saints now bottom out to 0-3, good enough for last place in the NFC South.
All of this sounds nice, but might not make any difference considering how well the now 3-0 Atlanta Falcons are playing. The Falcons tightened their choke hold on the NFC South late Sunday, with a 27-3 stomping of the San Diego Chargers in San Diego. All three of Atlanta’s wins do come against the pitiable AFC West. Though, its tough to criticize a 3-0 start, especially as well as the Falcons played on Sunday.
There it is. The Panthers head into week four with a little less humility, knowing they are tied for second place within their division.
Carolina still has potential to put something together in 2012. After this past Thursday night, they have a lot of work to do before they face the Falcons this upcoming Sunday. Simply relying on division foes falling going forward, will only result in a painfully dreadful season.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Please follow @robertkester1.