The Carolina Panthers meant well against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For three quarters, Carolina was competitive- hanging with the visiting Bucs and taking a winnable game into halftime tied at 17. Powered by an eight consecutive possession scoring barrage, the Bucs pulled away in the second half, demolishing the Panthers 46-23. Here are three observations from the Panthers’ week-10 loss in Charlotte.
Third Down Struggles
This game boiled down to third down efficiency. Tampa Bay had it, while Carolina didn’t. The Panthers only converted one third down in ten attempts. The Bucs on the other hand went 10-16 on third down. Tampa kept their drives going regardless of how the Panthers defended. The only success the Panthers had defensively on third down situations was when the Bucs walked away with a couple of field goals instead of touchdowns. Offensively, the Panthers were purposeful in their approach on third down, but they couldn’t execute.
Before Teddy Bridgewater went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter, he was efficient. Bridgewater completed his first 12 passes adding a touchdown, before ending the game with 136 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception. The Panthers offense was successful on the 1st half – scoring on three of their five possessions. In the second half, most of his throws were underneath passes-seldom throwing deep. Early in the third, Bridgewater perfectly read a blitz and found DJ Moore for at 17-yard gain, putting them in the redone. Had Bridgewater took more risks and thrown deep, it would have stretched the field and made it easier on the running game. Managing games is fine when you have a sizable lead. It’s impossible to manage a game and expect to win it.
No Sense of Urgency
The Panthers fought in the first half and what they did was commendable. However, they didn’t keep that same fight in the second and resigned to the fact that the Bucs were going to win. Losing a game is one thing, especially when you go out, compete and fight. It happens. It’s another thing to just give up. In the second half, that’s exactly what the Panthers did. When asked about his team’s effort, head coach Matt Rhule was candid in his thoughts about his teams lack of intensity.
“Unbelievably disappointed with how we played in the second half. Completely unacceptable.”
Next week, the Panthers will attempt to prevent a six game losing streak when they face the Lions.