The Carolina Panthers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, with the defense undergoing an epic collapse in the final moments of the game. Everyone on the defense is to blame for allowing E.J. Manuel and the Bills to march down the field with time winding down, but the secondary got completely shredded. The Panthers’ defensive backs’ inability to cover the Bills’ receivers, particularly on the game-winning touchdown to Stevie Johnson, cost the Panthers the game.
It wasn’t all their fault though. The injury bug hit the Panthers hard during the game, especially in the secondary, with Colin Jones and D.J. Moore forced into action at safety late in the game. Both players are backups, with Moore usually seeing time at cornerback. Neither of them should have been in that position at that point in the game, but Charles Godfrey, Quintin Mikell and Mike Mitchell were all hampered with injuries. The Panthers ended up having inexperienced players forced into action at a critical point in the game, and that inexperience led to critical mistakes.
It started with the Panthers’ inability to cover the Bills receivers, watching them as they marched methodically down the field. Then, when it seemed like the Panthers might have finally have a stop, Luke Kuechly gets called for pass interference. The foul was clear, a mistake he was forced to make because Stevie Johnson beat him out of his break. The defensive line also failed to contain Manuel on a scramble to the right which was the play that set up the backbreaker. D.J. Moore showed his inexperience at safety with a critical mistake in coverage. Moore let Johnson free into the back of the end zone instead choosing to cover the underneath route that Josh Norman had already locked up. What transpired ripped the hearts out of Panther nation for yet another disappointment in what is becoming a depressing trend.