Tuesday, September 16, 2014

KINGS OF THE JUNGLE

PANTHERS ARE KINGS OF THE JUNGLE

   The Carolina Panthers were only one-point favorites to beat the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. The oddsmakers went down with the naysayers this week, as the Cats blew by the Lions, 24-7, on the way to their first 2-0 start since the 2008 season. Not many people, outside of diehard Panthers fans, expected this to happen.

   Last year at this time, the Panthers were 0-2 and looking for answers. Shortly thereafter, they went on a record-setting win streak of eight games and 11 out of 12, winning the NFC South Division. The 2-0 start in 2014 doesn’t guarantee any fairytale ending, but it does put Carolina in the division lead with positive momentum for the rest of the season.

   On Sunday, the Panthers started slow, but finished fast.  They only held a slim 6-0 lead at halftime on two Graham Gano field goals.  But in the second half, the Panthers came out ready to dominate and rule the game.

DE Mario Addison
   QB Cam Newton came back with a vengeance, showing signs of brilliance after sitting out last week with a rib injury, hitting on 22 of 34 passes for 281 yards and two TD’s. RB DeAngelo Williams sat out with an injury, but his running mate Jonathan Stewart performed admirably, breaking a 22-yard run and then scoring one of the two Panthers touchdowns. Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen, and Jason Avant were standout receivers.

   The defense forced three turnovers and held the Lions scoreless in the first half, and to one touchdown for the game. DE Greg Hardy was named Inactive prior to the game, but replacement #97 Mario Addison contributed as he registered 2.5 sacks.

   The Carolina Panthers look poised now for another playoff run. Actually, their 2-0 start provides a needed buffer for a tough upcoming schedule. Their October schedule includes back-to-back games at Cincinnati and Green Bay, as well as home games with Seattle and New Orleans, followed by an early November game at Philadelphia. It will be a tough test for the Panthers, but one they are capable to overcome.

NEXT GAME : Sunday, Sept. 21 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Panthers vs. Bucs : 2014 Opener a Success

The Panthers won their first home opener in seven years.
   For the first time in 48 games, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton sat on the sidelines during a regular season game, nursing a rib injury that he suffered in a preseason game.  And for the first time in seven years, backup QB Derek Anderson started a regular season NFL game. 

   For those in the know, it was time to panic.  The team wanted to get off to a fast start in 2014, setting aside the precedent of a combined 3-14 start the last three seasons.  The Panthers had not won an opening game since 2008. 

   Most of the naysayers were picking the Bucs to topple the Cats.  All of those naysayers were wrong.

QB Derek Anderson
   Anderson told coach Ron Rivera that he was ready.  That was the understatement of the day, as he went out and threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions.  TE Greg Olsen and rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin each caught a TD pass, while defensive ace LB Luke Kuechly had three sacks and forced a key fumble.  New Panthers DB’s Roman Harper and Antoine Cason each intercepted Tampa Bay passes.

   Even though Newton was in street clothes and would not play in this game, it did not keep him off of the field.  In the second quarter, during a timeout, Cam sprinted out onto the field to join the Panthers in their huddle, giving all of his teammates an encouraging word.  For his brief escapade, referees gave Rivera a warning to keep Newton off of the field.

   While the final score (20-14) might normally indicate a close game, it was far from that.  The Bucs’ two scores came later in the game, after the Panthers had built a 17-0 lead.   Carolina dominated the first three quarters of the game, and was never really threatened.

   The next time that Cam goes out on the field, it will be official.  He has been announced as the starter for the Panthers home opener on Sept. 14 vs. the Detroit Lions.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pics from Panthers Past

A STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE

Me @ Panthers FAN FEST a few years ago
 

Me & Fred with Sir Purr


 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

CAM CONTEST

    Hey Panthers Fans!
      Bob's "Panthers Blog" brings you a Fun Contest!  

  All you have to do is to log in to our "Comments" section at the bottom of this blog post, and enter in your PREDICTION for the 2014 Panthers Regular Season Record.  { Remember- this is a 16-game season, so a prediction of 10-2 will be invalid.  The wins & losses have to total 16 games }.

  We have to know who you are to award the winner, so please specify : (1) your first name & initial, and your hometown in the blog comment, and then (2) send us an email with your full name.

BE SURE TO READ THE "OFFICIAL RULES" BEFORE PLAYING


Panthers 2014 Schedule



Newton, Williams & Stewart Ready to Go

   Word in the Panthers camp is that QB Cam Newton, and RB's DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are ready for action and will play at least a half in the Panthers' next preseason game on Sunday, August 17 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. 

   I don't know about you, but this Panthers fan is ready to see that Triple Threat back on the field.  While Carolina had spurts of brilliance in their narrow loss to Buffalo, "nothing could be finer" in Carolina than to have these three back in pads again.

   Also- look for a deep throw sometime in the game on Sunday from Newton to rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin.   While Benjamin only caught one pass against the Bills, it was a 29-yard circus touchdown catch in the end zone, and caused both fans and sports people to stand at attention.  Also, keep an eye on Tavares King, claimed off waivers from Denver this year, who caught five passes and looked spectacular.

   We're posting the Panthers Schedule today, so look it over for your favorite games and to make a prediction for the Panthers season.   If you're lucky enough to correctly predict the Panthers regular season record, you will be eligible for a drawing to win a Cam Newton autographed Panthers ball cap.   Look for the post entitled "Cam Contest."  All of the "Official Rules" are there for you.   Only the predictions entered as a blog comment on this post will be considered.   Go & enter now !



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Are You Ready for Some Football ?

© 2014 by Bob Wingate

   Hank Williams, jr. used to get fans excited by kicking off Monday Night Football  TV broadcasts with this song.  After over seven months of “vacation”, the NFL and the Carolina Panthers kick it off again for their 2014-15 seasons.  

   it’s about time, don’t you think ?

   The Panthers got about as close to the Super Bowl as they’ve been in a long time last year, winning eight straight and 11 out of 12 games on the way to the NFC South division championship and a berth in the playoffs for the first time in five years.  The last time they made it to the postseason, it was a fiasco (a lopsided loss at home to the Arizona Cardinals in which QB Jake Delhomme was personally responsible for six turnovers).  Last year wasn’t much better, as the 49’ers played “payback” in beating the Panthers [we had beaten them earlier in the year on our winning streak].  One again, it was a humiliating defeat on our home field.

PANTHERS’ 20TH ANNIVERSARY

   Sometimes I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday, but if memory serves me correctly, the Panthers’ best times included : the NFC Championship game (vs. the Packers) in just their 2nd season (1996);  a trip to the Super Bowl in their 8th season (2003); and a Divisional Playoff game in their 13th season (2008).  But unfortunately for us, all of these pinnacles of success ended in season-ending defeats.

    
   This year, our 20th Anniversary season, the Carolina Panthers come back more determined than ever to repeat in their own division, and move on in the playoffs.  Easier said than done, the Panthers will have a tough road, with a tough schedule (see blog “Panthers Schedule”). 


BILLS-PANTHERS RECAP

   The season-before-the-season started last night, with the Panthers hosting the Buffalo Bills in Charlotte’s Bank of America stadium. 

   Don’t believe anyone who says “the preseason doesn’t matter.”  While it may be true that the games are not taken as seriously as the regular season, our team does not easily forget what happened the last time they met the Bills.  Buffalo drove the field and scored a touchdown in the last second of the game to win, 24-23.  At the time, the loss left things looking pretty dismal for our season at 1-3.  No one really could have imagined then that we would go 8-0 in the middle of the season, finish at 12-4 and get in the playoffs.

   Not surprisingly, it was announced at game time that starting QB Cam Newton would not play in the Panthers’ first preseason game, still recovering after having off-season surgery on his left ankle.  Newton is entering his fourth year as a pro, and he will only add to his growing legacy.  He is the only player in the NFL to have passed for 10,000+ yards and run for 2,000+ yards in his first three seasons.  This year, he will no doubt pass 100 TD’s rushing and passing.

   After a relatively quiet first quarter, in which a Bills field goal was the lone score, the Panthers came alive on the first play of the second stanza with backup QB Derek Anderson (#3) hitting rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin (#13) in the end zone on a beautifully executed 29-yard touchdown pass.  Strangely enough, with a new experimental PAT (extra point) from the 15-yard-line, they missed the kick and the score was doubled at 6-3.

PENDULUM OF MOMENTUM

   The pendulum of momentum swung back with the Bills, scoring ten points before halftime.  After a fumble recovery, Buffalo scored on a 1-yard run with four minutes to go in the half.  Then, with seconds left on the clock. they kicked a second field goal to go up by 13-6.  The Panthers had spots of brilliance, sandwiched by two offensive turnovers that led to Buffalo scores.  

QB Joe Webb
   Late in the third quarter, CB Josh Norman saved a touchdown with an interception in the end zone.  But on the next play, a costly holding penalty brought back a  Panthers 52-yard pass play, and backed them up to their own 9-yard line.   At this point, QB Joe Webb (#14), acquired in the spring from the Minnesota Vikings, and in a battle just to land a roster spot, looked impressive in driving the team down the field, both throwing the ball downfield to WR Tavares King (#12) and eluding defensive pressure with his footwork.  It was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run by RB Darren Reaves (#36).  A two-point conversion failed, and the Panthers still trailed by one, 13-12, with 11:32 left in the game.

   Just as quickly as we inched back into the game, the Bills took it back by executing a drive of their own, and suddenly it was back to an eight-point lead, 20-12.   With their backs against the wall with a fourth-and-10 at the two-minute warning, the Panthers got a break with a defensive holding call that resulted in an automatic first down.   That’s all they needed, as a couple of plays later, Webb hurled a line-drive to WR Brandon Williams (#86) for six.  Down 20-18, and going for two and a tie, the Carolina roller coaster took another nosedive as a pass bounced in front of the receiver.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

   Game Over.. right ?   Not yet.  The ensuing onsides kickoff was bobbled, and recovered by the Panthers.   Made and missed opportunities were the story of this game, and this continual pendulum swing meant the Panthers had one more mistake to make.  Webb’s pass bounced off of his intended receiver, and was intercepted with only 0:53 on the clock.  The Bills would then just run out the clock, and the game ended too close for comfort, 20-18.

POSITIVES (+) AND NEGATIVES (-)

·        (+)  It’s only the first preseason game ;
·        (+)  After losing our entire receiving corps (four players) from last year, WR’s Benjamin and King played extremely well ;
·        (+)  Although we may not really need a third QB with Cam Newton and Derek Anderson already on the roster, JOE WEBB made an impressive show.
__________________________________________________________________

·        (-)  Yhe offense totally overshadowed our #2-ranked defense ;
·        (-)  We gave the ball away to the Bills way too much ;
·        (-)  We LOST… it’s never good to lose, even in the preseason.


NEXT UP:  New England Patriots (Aug.22)