NFL WEEK 4 IN REVIEW: Falcons 30, Panthers 28
The Carolina Panthers, for 57 minutes, played well enough to beat the 3-0 Atlanta Falcons.
But as you, I, and anybody else that reads this blog knows, on any given week at least a handful of games are decided in the final few minutes.
With the ball, and less than 2 minutes remaining in the game, Cam Newton fumbled while trying to pick up the 1st down on a short 3rd down. A Panthers’ player recovered the ball short of the 1st down marker and forced Panthers’ 2nd year head coach Ron Rivera into a tough decision.
Do I go for it on 4th and 1 and ice the game with a potential 4th down, or do I punt it, pin the Falcons deep, and trust my defense to win the game for me?
Rivera elected to punt, and the Panthers’ special teams couldn’t have possibly played it any better. They downed the ball inside the Falcons 1, and with under 1 minute remaining and NO timeouts left, the Falcons needed about 65 yards to put field goal kicker Matt Bryant in range to win it for the Falcons.
Panthers win, right?
On the very first play of the drive Matt Ryan completed a 59 yard bomb to Falcons’ receiver Roddy White. One more sideline completion and a defensive pass interference penalty later, and Bryant had a 40 yarder in a domed stadium to win it.
The Falcons are 4-0.
Many people have already began to blame head coach Ron Rivera for the Panthers’ loss. You guys say that Rivera should’ve elected to go for it on 4th to ice the win for the Panthers with a first down.
And you are all wrong.
Picking up that first down was NO guaranteee, and if the Panthers don’t convert it, the clock stops leaving Ryan and the Falcons with more than a minute to pick up about 25 yards to set up a game winning field goal. The Panthers’ special teams could not have POSSIBLY played that punt any better. They pinned the Atlanta Falcons inside their own 1 with LESS than a minute remaining, and NO TIMEOUTS. Simple cover 2, prevent defense, giving Matt Ryan 10-12 yard throws, and not allowing any Falcons receivers to get behind the secondary would’ve allowed the Panthers to win this game with no problems.
It should have been.
Cam Newton’s fumble didn’t lose the game for the Panthers and Ron Rivera’s decision to punt on 4th down didn’t lose this game for the Panthers. The Panthers awful defense when it mattered the most, lost this game for the Carolina Panthers.
As someone who played 3 competitive sports for all of my life, I can tell you that it’s not the blowout losses like the one the Panthers suffered at the hands of the Giants last week that destroy your confidence as a team. It’s the games that you SHOULD have won, and didn’t that destroy your confidence.
This loss will be tough for the Carolina Panthers to recover from.
Congratulations, Falcons fans. Your team is 4-0.