The Carolina Panthers are already in midseason form.
The defense ‘understood the assignment’ while the offense needed more tutoring. On defense, Carolina was sharp and aggressive. They forced two turnovers in the first half to set the offense up with two red zone opportunities.
They did so through the rush defense. Marquis Haynes set the tone with a strip to end the first quarter. Possessions later, Carolina’s defensive line picked up on Indianapolis’ zone read. They picked up on the Colts’ offensive line cues, body language, and shifts and reacted at the right time – forcing another turnover. Both turnovers set up opportunities in the red zone only to walk away with six points instead of 12.
Eventually, the Panthers ended up with a touchdown when PJ Walker found Tommy Tremble for the score for a 15-3 point lead in the second quarter.
In the second half, the offense still struggled with red zone efficiency with Will Grier under center. In one sequence, Grier committed to the weak side, trying to force a play while attacking the strong side was the move he was supposed to make as the wide outs ran flats.
The defense couldn’t carry the Panthers in the second half like they did the first, and as a result, the Colts came back and won 21-18. Those missed opportunities in the first and second quarters hurt Carolina in the red zone. After the Haynes fumble recovery Walker should have been more aware on 3rd and 6, reading that the Colts’ were running a Cover 2 and pressure from the linebackers was there. Walker could have, and should have, kept the ball and run for the the first down to have another chance at a touchdown.
The Panthers have a chance to redeem themselves against the Baltimore Ravens on Friday.