For the fourth consecutive week, the Panthers have had an opportunity with the ball to either tie or win the game on the final drive of the game. For the fourth consecutive time, they fell short. This time the lowly Panthers gave the defending champs all they could handle and some. Let’s take a look at what happened on Sunday:
For starters, the Carolina offense was firing on all cylinders, highlighted by the return of Christian McCaffrey; all he did was go for 151 total yards and two touchdowns. This performance shows how deadly this offense can be when it’s not centered around just one guy; Teddy Bridgewater had one of his better showings going 36/49 for 310 yards and two touchdowns and a nice zero in the turnover column.
The ball was well distributed and four different receivers caught at least five passes, and the offensive line outperformed themselves; they held the Chiefs to only two sacks on the day. The Panthers pulled out all the stops, including a fake punt pass for 28 yards on their way to scoring 31 points in the game. In this league, that should typically be enough to win you the game, but not against this Chiefs’ offense.
On the flip side, we know all about the juggernaut that is the Chiefs’ offense. The best QB in the league is surrounded by the most offensive talent in the league. In a game without their best defensive player (Jeremy Chinn), the Chiefs continually went to Travis Kelce vs a disastrous Panthers’ linebacking core to the tune of 160 yards.
The Chiefs didn’t even attempt to run the ball except for ten times for 30 yards. It seemed a little strange when you think about how bad the Panthers’ run defense has been this season; however, it doesn’t really matter when Patrick Mahomes throws for 370 and four touchdowns. The defense did a good job of holding them out of the endzone for most of the game until Mahomes found Tyreek Hill for six twice in the 4th quarter. Other than one blown coverage on the back end of a young secondary, he was held in check for the majority of the day.
Overall, this is a very young team vs the defending champions, and they are still learning how to win. Despite what the record says, you have to be proud of how Matt Rhule and Co. have this team playing this season. They have been competitive in every game with considerably less talent on the defensive side of the ball.
With a pretty tough schedule coming up, it’s not hard to see this team going a potential 5-11 to end the season and finishing with a top 10 draft pick; but, give Rhule another good draft and his first full offseason to prepare, and you are looking at a potential contender next year. This team is trending in the right direction, and there is a ton to be excited about.