Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Panthers Home Opener- Delightful Disaster

  This past Sunday was a "Delightful Disaster"... a wonderfully enjoyable time.. somewhat disappointed by a play gone bad at the end of a hard-fought game. 
I got a phone call on Friday from a good friend of mine.. Fred's boss, who is a Panthers PSL owner, offered him two tickets to the home opener with the Seattle Seahawks.  He in turn offered me one of the tickets and the opportunity to enjoy an NFL football game with my favorite team. After deliberating for at least a second, I accepted the invitation.

  Sunday was a marvelous, bright sunny day, temperature in the high 80's, with a beautiful blue sky.  After hanging out for awhile, we headed out to the stadium and arrived about an hour-and-a-half before kickoff.  We walked around a few minutes, observing all of the tailgaters, and taking a few pictures. There was a huge crowd everywhere we went, with people tossing footballs and cooking out and just having a great time.

  We got to the stadium and after being greeted at the front gate by our metal detecting team, we found our seats about a half hour before the start of the game.  It was warm, but we had our hats, caps and towels, plus four bottles of water.  A few minutes after we arrived, we met a really nice couple from Raleigh, named Trent and Tammy.  We chatted and enjoyed their company the entire game.

  We watched while the new drum team came out and played, and then the cheerleaders took the field and showed off some of their moves.  Then, the anticipation reached a climax as everyone's eyes were focused on the tunnel and the huge Panthers logo at the corner of the stadium.  The players rushed out onto the field amidst a gigantic roar of the crowd.  It was timeThe season was about to officially start!

  The Panthers got off to a pretty good start.  They made some good plays, but never quite got close enough to threaten a score.  Then in the second quarter, after a Seattle drive and field goal, Carolina marched 80 yards down the field and scored a touchdown on a short pass from Cam Newton to Steve Smith.  Unfortunately, though they came close a couple more times, that proved to be the only score of the day for the Panthers.

  What seemed like a great start and the promise of a new path eventually turned into a much too similar conclusion, as the Panthers maintained a very slim lead of 7-6 for most of the second half, only to see the Seahawks get a big break on a 43-yard bomb for a touchdown from QB Russ Wilson, who threw for over 300 yards, to WR Kearse with about ten minutes left.

  Same old story.  Panthers fight for a slim lead, hold on for dear life, never building a cushion, and then somehow manage to lose at the end of the game.
  This time, old reliable running back DeAngelo Williams took off on a 2nd-and-2 play for a 16-yard jaunt, only to be stripped of the ball at the Seattle 8-yard line.  As "D" broke free, it seemed like an obvious 1st-and-goal for the Panthers, and an almost sure game-winning touchdown.  But alas- it was not to be.  It seemed like an eternity as the ball just sat motionless on the turf, while a pile of players suddenly turned and lunged for its possession. DeAngelo was one of those players fighting for his own fumble, but could not get to it in time.  Seattle took possession, ran out the clock, and foiled our season opener.

  [The above picture of DeAngelo Williams was NOT taken after the Seattle game.]

  After the game, DeAngelo took sole responsibility for losing the game, while most of his teammates consoled him and insisted it was a team loss, not just one individual's responsibility.  Either way, the box score remained the same.

  Playoff-boundBefore the game, I would've probably bet on it.  Now? Still a devoted Panther fan, I'm hoping they will bounce back and put together a string of wins to a playoff berth.. even if they have to sneak it the back door.

  The Good NewsNext up-- Buffalo.

[Note: If you are one of the FANS that was photographed at the game, your pics will be up here soon.. had a problem in downloading.. check back!]

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