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”).
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|
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)