The Carolina Panthers went down in Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills in a very close game that came down to the wire. It was a very disappointing loss for the Panthers, because they were considered the favorites. However, in the NFL, no game is a guarantee win. Both teams came off a close loss in Week 1 and were looking for redemption. It’s not fair to say the Bills wanted the win more than the Panthers, but they were just the better team that day.
About three minutes into the fourth quarter, the Panthers converted a field goal giving them the lead. They were able to maintain that lead up until the last two seconds of the game when the Bills shocked everyone and scored a game-winning touchdown. The Bills drove 80 yards down the field in about a minute and a half, and threw a two-yard touchdown fade to wide receiver Steve Johnson who was wide open in the corner of the end zone. With this devastating loss, it’s time to not only look at the players, but to start questioning the coaches and the decisions they make.
With a 1:42 left on the clock in the fourth quarter, the Panthers were facing a very tough decision. The score was 20-17 in favor of the Panthers. It was fourth and one on the Bills 29 yard, meaning it would be a 39-yard field goal. If the Panthers went for the first down and succeeded, it would have been game over. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera elected to play it safe and kick the field goal. I may be very critical of this decision because I know what the outcome of the game is, but at some point, you need to take chances. Playing it safe in the NFL won’t get the Panthers the winning record they desperately need. Due to the past few seasons, Coach Rivera is on the hot seat. The whole organization is on the hot seat.
I understand taking the field goal forces to the Bills to get a touchdown. The Panthers have a solid defense and I don’t criticize Rivera for trusting his them. Nonetheless, what did the Panthers have to lose going for the first down? If they turned over the ball on downs, the Bills still have the ball deep in their own territory. They still have the same amount of time to drive the field. If they kick the field goal, they tie the game and send it into overtime. If the Bills scored a touchdown in either situation, they would have won. Rivera needs to take a chance and go for the first down and potentially end the game right then. Instead, he took the safe way and still lost. It’s Rivera’s third season at head coach, and unless he takes control of these team and starts winning some games, it may be his last season with the Panthers.