The Carolina Panthers are playing good football, but they did not finish against the undefeated Atlanta Falcons. Carolina put them in a position to win at the end of the game, but did not close the door.
QB Cam Newton and the offense came back this week with a vengeance running the ball and throwing at will. Newton and the offense came out hard and showed that they can play with anyone.
Carolina’s defense made plays all day long. FS Haruki Nakamura had an interception. Nakamura was also burned twice by Falcon receivers. Going forward the Panthers defensive backfield are going to have to make plays in the fourth quarter especially when games are on the line.
If the Panthers want to make the playoffs this year, they are going to have to learn to close out the games that they leading. Fumbling away the ball or giving up big plays late in games is not going to get them to the playoffs.
Playoff caliber teams are the ones that, week in, and, week out get the job done. They win the games that they are supposed win and they also win the games that they are not supposed to win.
Playing mistake free football is the sign of a great team. Carolina could be this type of team, but at this point they are making too many mental mistakes. These mistakes have cost them games, and must be corrected.
In my estimation the Panthers have the all the pieces to be a playoff team if they start closing out games and stop making mental mistakes that keep them in the lower echelon of teams in their division and also in the NFL.
Mike Samuels, Carolina Panthers Columnist, Twitter @NFLPANTHER_ROAR and Http://www.facebook.com/TheSportsDude