The Carolina Panthers strike again, or rather their tendency to come undone in the fourth quarter strikes again. As ususal, the Panthers entered the fourth quarter with a lead then blew that lead and lost the game. This isn’t something new for Panthers fans. One too many times last year the Panthers gave up a fourth quarter lead and lost a game by a touchdown or less. This week was no different. The Panthers played a solid game against the Buffalo Bills and were leading into the fourth quarter. However, a pass interference call on the Panthers’ defense put the Bills in excellent position, and eventually leading to a two-yard fade into the back of the end zone where Bill’s wide receiver, Steve Johnson, was waiting all alone.
The Panthers can’t seem to close out a game once in the fourth quarter. The same situation happened in week one against the Seattle Seahawks. It is difficult to tell if it is because of fatigue, poor play calling by the coach, or just overall bad luck. However, the Panthers lost seven of nine games last season by six or less points. Many of those losses came because of sloppy play in the fourth quarter. Bad luck may have seemed like a valid excuse about six losses ago, but now it’s time to question the team and coaches.
This week the defense for the Panthers still held strong, but also gave up a lot more yards on the ground. CJ Spiller rushed for over 100 yards, but was still left out of the end zone again. The Panthers’ defense forced and recovered a fumble, and recorded one interception of the day. However, the secondary still struggled a little bit letting three of the Bill’s wide receivers average 13 or more yards a catch.
The game winning touchdown for the Bills was piercing to the heart of Panther’s fans. What hurt even more was how wide open Johnson was in the end zone. Even in this situation there is no proof whether it was poor play calling by the coach or just a terrible breakdown by the players themselves. Either way this is a loss the Panthers must be very disappointed about.
During this game, the Panthers’ offense seemed to finally spread the ball around a little more. Cam Newton threw to five different receivers this week as opposed to only three last week. However, Newton got sacked a whopping six times today. It’s not that the Bills have an outstanding defense, but the Panthers’ offensive line just seemed out of sync today. Once again, the Panthers will be heading into this week with their heads down low and plenty to work on. This was a game they were expected to win and they lost in the last two seconds of the game. At some point, the organization needs to figure out if it is the coaches and their play calling causing the problem, or if the Panthers need to focus more on conditioning so they can close out a game in the fourth quarter.