Instant analysis from the Carolina Panthers’ 35-32 loss at Oakland:
Looked like a great comeback – for a while.
It looked like the Panthers were going to pull off a terrific comeback after they erased a 17-point halftime deficit.
But this being the 2016 Panthers, the good times did not last.
Linebacker A.J. Klein, subbing for an injured Luke Kuechly, was beaten deep on the Raiders’ game-winning drive. The normally sure-handed Greg Olsen couldn’t pull in a pass on the Panthers’ ensuing drive.
And the game ended with Cam Newton being sacked, which will serve as the lasting image for this season that surely will now end after Week 17 in Tampa Bay.
The Panthers made it interesting. And that’s about the best that can be said of their Sunday performance.
Panthers waited way too long to show urgency.
Before Khalil Mack’s interception return for a touchdown gave the Raiders a 24-7 halftime lead, the Panthers were going through the motions in the huddle and acting very content to go into the locker room trailing by 10.
That the Panthers finally turned up the intensity was a testament mostly to linebacker Thomas Davis, whose two third-quarter takeaways helped Carolina erase the 17-point deficit.
But why did it take so long for the fire to kick in? And why weren’t Mike Shula and Ron Rivera being more aggressive at the end of the first half?
Frustrations are starting to set in.
No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin threw a fit – and his helmet – when he was taken out of the game in the third quarter.
Benjamin was in the midst of a terrible game and hadn’t had a catch when he had his tantrum.
To his credit, Benjamin came back in to pull down a 44-yard TD pass on his first reception.
But it appeared Benjamin was lined up wrong before a crucial third-down play in the final minute, forcing the Panthers to burn a timeout.