Instant analysis from the Carolina Panthers’ 20-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:
Panthers lost a game that bad teams lose.
The Carolina Panthers came in on a modest two-game win streak and appeared headed to an easy win after grabbing a 17-0 lead late in the first half. Carolina also had protected the ball well against a Chiefs team that came in leading the league in takeaways and turnover margin.
Then the fourth quarter happened.
Cam Newton made a terrible, throw-it-up decision (see below) that Eric Berry returned for a touchdown.
Kelvin Benjamin then was stripped of the ball by Marcus Peters, setting up Cairo Santos’ game-winning, 37-yard field goal as time expired.
This one is going to sting a while – maybe into a playoff-less offseason.
Eric Berry had some rough treatment for his old Atlanta buddy.
Newton had high praise for Berry, who grew up near him in Atlanta, last week when asked about the Chiefs’ Pro Bowl cornerback. Berry did not return the favor – at least on the field.
Berry intercepted Newton’s ill-advised, fourth-quarter heave and weaved his way across the field for a 42-yard return for a touchdown. Berry’s score – and the Chiefs’ ensuing 2-point conversion – pulled Kansas City to 17-14 and completely changed momentum.
The loss of punter Andy Lee hurt.
Graham Gano did the best he could under the circumstances: The Panthers kicker was pressed into punting duty after Lee injured his hamstring and left the game in the first quarter.
Gano punted four times, two of which went into the end zone for touchbacks. Another was a low liner that Tyreek Hill returned 21 yards into Panthers’ territory to set up a tying field goal.