I missed a blog on the Buffalo game.. or maybe I was just in mourning.. after that toss in the end zone with two seconds left, it was terribly difficult to don my Panthers cap or shirt again for a few days.
It also seems quite an odd but common occurrence, but the Panthers seem to lose to teams they should beat easily, and then surprise us with a convincing win over a better team. Quite a flip-flop. This year, though, I'm not sure you could call the 0-3 Giants a better team. Neither could their coach at this point. On Sunday, the Panthers literally whipped the Giants, 38-0. It was the worst defeat the Giants had experienced under head coach Tom Coughlin, and even more amazing, the most lopsided game that the Panthers had ever won.
I'm glad we won on Sunday.. never sad that we win.. but I'm wondering what version of the Panthers will emerge from their "Bye" week. The next game is October 6 at Arizona. The Cardinals are also struggling, but I'm expecting them to give us a good game.
As for the game this past Sunday, the biggest surprise was how well the ragamuffin secondary proved to be. For those of you that didn't know, the Panthers evidently lost three of their four starting defensive backs in the past week. The starting defensive backfield was made up of only one previous starter, plus three others who were either just signed or brought up from the practice squad.. at least two of the three were starting their first NFL game. Yet they made two interceptions and kept the talented Giants receiving corps in check all day long.
I am sure that the secondary was patting the backs of the Panthers front four, who registered a franchise-tying record of seven sacks of Eli Manning. Plus the offense came into its own in this game. QB Cam Newton threw three TD's (two to previously quiet WR Brandon LaFell), and also ran for another.
In retrospect, this is far from the result that I had expected for the first three games of the season- it's not so much the W-L record, but how it happened. The first two games seemed like deja vu all over again from last year. The Panthers have historically come out slow, and either fallen way behind their opponent, or somehow gained a very slim lead, which they would keep until sometime in the fourth quarter, when they managed to fall completely apart and usually lose in the closing minutes.
Yes- the Panthers led the league last year in games lost by less than a touchdown, and lo and behold, the first two losses this year- are by a combined total of six points! That's right- the equivalent of just one touchdown- and the Panthers would be 3-0 and leading their division. And yes- I had hoped for 3-0, but even 2-1 would have been okay.
I am certainly glad for a win (finally!), but after the "Bye" week, Carolina must be focused and determined.. and mean. They must have the killer mentality, the eye of the tiger, whatever you wish to call it. The next four games are extremely important, for in November, we will be facing the Falcons, 49'ers, Patriots and Dolphins, whose cumulative record is 8-4. Actually, the Patriots and Dolphins are undefeated at 6-0, and although the Dolphins might be just a bit over-rated, we all know that the Falcons and 49'ers are better than their 1-2 records indicate at the moment. We will certainly have our hands full. And if we blow a couple of the October games, we might be looking at a 3-8 or 4-7 record by the end of November.
So-- if the Panthers are really SERIOUS about meeting the Seahawks again (or ANY team) in the playoffs, they better be just as serious when they come back from their mini-vacation in October.