Scott Says

One positive sign: Panthers defense played well enough to win

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly rushes to make the tackle on Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill during the fourth quarter. The Chiefs did not score an offensive touchdown on Sunday.
Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly rushes to make the tackle on Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill during the fourth quarter. The Chiefs did not score an offensive touchdown on Sunday. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The Carolina Panthers offense owes the defense an apology after this one.

For the third straight game since the bye week, the Carolina defense played winning football. This time, though, the offense didn’t hold up its end.

Carolina’s defense never allowed a touchdown Sunday, giving up only four field goals (and the last one of those only after Kelvin Benjamin bobbled the game away).

Kansas City’s only touchdown came on a 42-yard interception return. This fine Panthers defensive performance will get lost in the shuffle because Carolina lost. But allowing 12 points, 256 yards and 2-for-12 on third-down conversions – as well as getting a turnover and three sacks – should be enough to win.

“This is a tough loss,” said Panthers safety Tre Boston, who had Carolina’s lone interception. “The way we played, and for it just to be snatched from you – it’s crazy.”

The name of the game is points, and the Panthers aren’t scoring enough. After scoring fewer than 21 points only three times in 19 games last season including the playoffs, Carolina has scored fewer than 21 on five occasions this season (going 1-4 in those games).

▪ Carolina continues to be helped by the fact that the NFC South is looking very mediocre again. Only Tampa Bay won among the division’s four teams Sunday, and only Atlanta (6-4) has a winning record.

▪ Here’s a snapshot of how things are bouncing the wrong way for Carolina this season. The Panthers have fumbled eight times – and lost all eight. That’s hard to do; it’s like losing a coin toss eight straight times. Their opponents have fumbled nine times – and only lost three of them.

▪ Linebacker Thomas Davis had an unusual mistake for him when he made a tackle out of bounds, resulting in a 15-yard penalty. Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith had his own penalized brain cramp, throwing the ball twice in a single play (catching the first one on a deflection).

▪ Carolina’s interior rushing game was bad. Jonathan Stewart ended up with 13 carries for 39 yards. Only Cam Newton’s 54 yards rushing made the Panthers’ 99-yard rushing total respectable. The Panthers really need to get Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil back.

▪ Newton went over 20,000 passing yards for his career on the day, becoming the fifth-youngest NFL quarterback to hit that mark. He also had the 34th game of his career with at least one TD rushing and one TD passing, extending his NFL record. 

▪ Great to see my old “Marshall Tucker Band” homeboys playing the halftime show. Most of the members of the original MTB went to Dorman High in Spartanburg, which is also my alma mater.

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