Early Mistakes Doom the Panthers against Rams

Panthers Fall To Rams

The Carolina Panthers fell to the Los Angeles Rams Sunday 30-27 during the team’s home opener of the NFL’s 100th season.

Many questions surrounded the Panthers coming into the game, including whether or not Cam Newton’s health would be an issue against the Rams defensive line, especially against the two-time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald.

Some of the questions, such as Newton’s health, were answered, but many remained after the team’s first game of the season.

A Sloppy First Half

While both teams battled each other to a 0-0 standstill after one quarter, the Panthers started getting sloppy. Rookie kicker Joey Slye missed a 53-yard field goal, setting up a field goal by Rams, giving them the early lead.

Things got worse for Carolina as Newton’s backward pass a few drives later was recovered by the Rams and taken into the endzone by Malcolm Brown to give the Rams a 10-0 lead. Following another Greg Zuerlein field goal, the Panthers drove down the field to give Slye his first field goal from 46 yards, but the Panthers still trailed at the half, 13-3.

Carolina matched the Rams in offensive net yards in the first half, with both teams going over 150 yards in the first half, but two turnovers and three sacks on the Panthers derailed a solid start for the team going into the second half.

The Panthers continued to bend and not break, as the team only allowed a field goal on the Rams’ first drive of the second half, which ended inside the Panthers’ 10-yard line.

Things Looking Better in the Second Half

The Panthers caught a break on the team’s drive of the second half when Zuerlein kicked the kickoff out of bounds, setting the Panthers up at the 40-yard line. Christian McCaffrey took the ball into the endzone just a few plays later to cut the deficit down to 16-10.

The most controversial moment of the game came during the midway point of the third quarter when the Panthers forced a fumble, but the call was incomplete on the field. The Panthers challenged and while the play was ruled a catch, the officials couldn’t tell if the Rams player’s knee was down, and called the play as it stood. Brown took it in for a touchdown later in the drive, giving the Rams a 23-10 lead.

Slye drilled a 52-yard field goal on the following Panthers possession, putting the Panthers behind 23-13 going into the final quarter.

Fourth Quarter Heroics Fall Short

The Panthers got a break to start the quarter as the special teams blocked a punt from Johnny Hecker and recovered it inside the Rams 10 yard line. Two plays later McCaffrey punched it in to bring the game within three points.

Bradberry intercepted Goff on the very next Rams drive, giving the Panthers a chance to take their first lead of the game. The Panthers couldn’t capitalize and had to punt after going three plays without a first down. The Rams scored on very next drive, putting the Panthers down 30-20.

The Panthers scored a touchdown with just under two minutes left in the game, cutting the lead to 30-27. The Panthers attempted to stop the Rams after a failed onside kick, but couldn’t prevent the first down and lost 30-27.

The Panthers have a quick turnaround to make, as they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium.