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NFC South

Panthers come up short in season opener

With 1:11 left in the game and the Panthers driving towards a possible game-winning touchdown, Carolina was faced with a fourth and inches.  First-time offensive coordinator Joe Brady drew up a play he was confident with, that had worked earlier in the game.  The ball was handed off to fullback Alex Armah and he was stuffed at the line.  After the turnover on downs, the Raiders were able to run the clock out for a 34-30 victory.  When you have an all-pro running back who racked up 134 and 2 touchdowns, you feed him the ball, especially with the game on the line.  In the post-game interview head coach Matt Rhule, took the blame for not giving Christian McCaffery the ball on that play.  “That’s something I have to think about walking away from this…When you write up who to blame for that, the only person you can blame is the head coach.”

Carolina fell behind early in the game with the Raiders scoring on six of their first eight possessions.  Leading the way for Las Vegas was Josh Jacobs.  He finished the contest with 93 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.  Jacobs along with Derek Carr, who threw for 239 yards and a touchdown, seemed to have their way with the Carolina defense.  A 17-15 lead at halftime for the Raiders ballooned to 27-15 in the third quarter before Carolina battled back.

Carolina leaned heavily on Christian McCaffrey to get the offense going to start the fourth quarter.  In the opening drive of the fourth, McCaffery gained 64 yards on 11 carries which led to a three-yard touchdown run, trimming the deficit to 27-22.  Later with 8:40 remaining in the game, Teddy Bridgewater found Robby Anderson down the right side for a 75 touchdown grab.  After a successful 2-point conversion, the Panthers went back in front 30-27.  Anderson finished the day with six catches for 115 yards.

As they had done all day, the Raiders continued to attack the young secondary of Carolina and were able to move the ball with ease.  With 4:14 left in the contest, Las Vegas took the lead for good on Jacobs six-yard touchdown run. His third of the day.

Apart from the questionable fourth and inches play, I thought Carolina played decently.  They hung in there and were able to grab the lead a couple of times.  Bridgewater looked good and was able to find the deep ball to Anderson.  He was able to move around and get out of trouble.  Teddy finished the day with 270 yards and a touchdown.  The Panthers are expecting big things from D.J. Moore, but he was a non-factor today.  The defense had numerous missed tackles and had trouble bringing down Jacobs, but he is an elite back and would give any team fits.

Carolina gets the chance to right the ship on the road next week against Tampa Bay.  It will not be a good time to face Brady and the Buccaneers.  They will be out with something to prove after losing to the Saints.  The Panthers secondary will be put to the test again having to cover the three-headed monster of Gronk, Evans, and Godwin.

 

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