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‘Gamers & Lamers’ in Panthers Vs. Vikings Week 8 Game: A Fan’s Analysis
Shanked it. Olindo Mare just flat out shanked it. The Panthers kicker missed a game-tying 31-yard field goal with less than a minute left as Carolina lost 21-24 to the Minnesota Vikings in a very winnable home game, dropping the Panthers to 2-6 on the season.
But the blame for the loss cannot be solely pinned on Mare as there were plenty of other pivotal moments that cost the Panthers the game. While the NFL post game shows cover the scoring plays, I look for the less visible but equally crucial plays that sustain drives, spring the big plays, or change momentum. Here is my analysis, as a Panthers fan, of these key plays, both good ("The Gamers") and bad ("The Lamers") that took place during Carolina's Week 8 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
14:09, Charles Johnson, DE - Gamer. Score tied 0-0, MIN ball on CAR 27. After the Vikings returned the opening kickoff all the way down to the Carolina 27, the defense needed a stop to prevent the Panthers from falling behind early. On 3rd-and-10 QB Christian Ponder dropped back to pass. Panthers DE Charles Johnson beat the left tackle and collapsed the pocket, forcing Ponder to scramble and ultimately be sacked by Terrell McClain. On fourth down the Vikings missed their field goal attempt.
13:26, DeAngelo Williams, RB - Lamer. Score tied 0-0, CAR ball on CAR 35. On the Panthers first play from scrimmage, Cam Newton lined up in a shotgun with DeAngelo Williams to his left. LB EJ Henderson came on a blitz and Williams failed to sustain his block on Henderson, who strip-sacked Cam Newton. The Vikings recovered the fumble on the Carolina 16 and scored a touchdown two plays later.
9:33, Byron Bell, RT - Gamer & Lamer. Panthers trail 0-7, CAR ball on CAR 33. Facing a 3rd-and-10, Cam Newton lined up in shotgun. LB Chad Greenway blitzed hard off the edge and RT Byron Bell pushed Greenway wide and took him to the ground. Cam Newton scrambled for a 15-yard first down off right tackle where Bell had cleared the path with a good block on the edge. But later in the drive Bell was beaten by DE Brian Robinson and was flagged for a holding penalty, and the 10 yard penalty pushed the Panthers out of field goal range and forced a punt to end the drive.
5:58, Thomas Williams LB - Lamer. Panthers trail 0-7, MIN ball on MIN 6. With Minnesota facing a 3rd-and-15 near their own end zone, Adrian Peterson took a short middle screen. Thomas Williams was playing in the middle of the field and misread the play. Williams looped right and ended up completely out of position as Peterson took the screen pass 22 yards for a first down. The Vikings did not score on the drive, but the Panthers would have had excellent field position had the Vikings been forced to punt from their own end zone.
14:29, Steve Smith, WR - Gamer. Panthers trail 0-7, CAR ball on MIN 27. On 1st-and-16 Steve Smith was single covered down the right sideline by CB Asher Allen. Cam Newton threw a jump ball for Smith, who was looking over his inside shoulder. The ball went toward the outside, and Smith had to pivot without breaking stride, outleap the defender, and wrestle the ball away from Allen. Smith caught the ball at the 1, setting up a Jeremy Shockey touchdown. Steve Smith is a bad, bad man when he goes up in the air to get a football
11:13, Jonathan Stewart, RB - Gamer. Score tied 7-7, CAR ball on MIN 42. On 3rd-and-3 Jonathan Stewart took the handoff and was met short of the first down by DT Kevin Williams. Stewart fought for the extra yard he needed and dragged the 311-pound Williams a few feet past the first down marker, extending the drive. Two plays later Cam Newton hit Greg Olsen for a 39-yard go-ahead touchdown.
4:47, Captain Munnerlyn, CB - Gamer. Panthers lead 14-7, MIN ball on CAR 17. On 3rd-and-11 Percy Harvin caught a 12-yard pass. Captain Munnerlyn hit Harvin and simply yanked the ball away from him, with Munnerlyn retaining possession on the strip. Instead of the Vikings having a 1st-and-Goal from the 5, Carolina took the ball and Munnerlyn's strip took points off the board for Minnesota.
3:50, DeAngelo WIlliams, RB - Gamer. Panthers lead 14-7, CAR ball on MIN 13. On 3rd-and-2 Cam Newton went shotgun with DeAngelo Williams to his right. The play was a quarterback draw and Williams gave a great lead block on LB Chad Greenway, creating just enough room for Newton to pick up five yards and a first down, preventing the Panthers from having to punt near their own end zone.
1:15, Jordan Gross, LT - Lamer. Panthers lead 14-7, CAR ball on CAR 42. As the Panthers were driving in an attempt for one final score before halftime, LT Jordan Gross was beaten badly by Jared Allen. Allen sacked Cam Newton and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Minnesota. The Vikings converted with a touchdown two plays later, tying the game before the half. This play more than any other contributed to the Panthers three-point loss.
14:24, Legedu Naanee, WR - Gamer & Lamer. Score tied 14-14, CAR ball on CAR 17. On 2nd-and-13 Naanee had to come back to catch an under-thrown 22-yard pass from Cam Newton. Naanee dropped to his knees and got both hands under the ball and the catch was upheld after a review challenge from Minnesota. The Panthers ultimately ended this drive with a touchdown. This play helped Naanee redeem himself after committing a 10-yard holding penalty and a 15-yard offensive facemask penalty in the first half. Naanee also dropped a wide open five-yard out pattern on the next play. Naanee continues to be perplexing with his inconsistent play as he struggles to cement himself as a viable receiving threat.
4:29, James Anderson, LB - Lamer. Panthers lead 21-14, MIN ball on CAR 42. Facing 3rd-and-10 Christian Ponder dropped back to pass. TE Visanthe Shiancoe ran past the first down marker in the middle of the field. Shiancoe brushed right past Anderson and flashed open a step away from the Panthers LB. Rather than step in front of Shiancoe, Anderson continued to spy into the backfield and gave enough of a window for Ponder to connect with his tight end, extending the drive. The Vikings tied the game with a touchdown five plays after this big third down conversion.
11:38, Greg Hardy, DE - Gamer. Score tied 21-21, MIN ball on CAR 48. On 3rd-and-11 Christian Ponder dropped back to pass. DE Greg Hardy applied pressure from Ponder's right, collapsing the pocket and forcing Ponder to scramble to his left. Ponder had to throw an off balance pass moving to his left which fell incomplete and the Vikings were forced to punt. While Hardy did not fill up the stat sheet in this game (1 tackle, no sacks), his pressure on Ponder and two pass deflections had an impact on the game.
8:42, Chris Gamble, CB - Lamer. Score tied 21-21, MIN ball on MIN 18. Minnesota faced a 3rd-and-7 deep in their own territory. Christian Ponder dropped back to pass and immediately felt pressure. Ponder had to throw a quick hot pass to Percy Harvin who was two yards behind the line of scrimmage. Chris Gamble had one-on-one coverage on Harvin and completely whiffed on the tackle near the line of scrimmage, allowing the Vikings wide receiver to sprint down the right sideline for a first down. Gamble's missed tackle extended Minnesota's drive which ultimately ended with the Vikings kicking the field goal that proved to be the game winning points.
3:04, Charles Godfrey, S - Gamer. Score tied 21-21, CAR ball on MIN 16. On 3rd-and-5 the Vikings ran a shovel pass to the middle to Adrian Peterson. Charles Godfrey read the play perfectly and hit Peterson high just after he caught the ball, wrapping up the powerful running back while Godfrey's teammates piled on to pull Peterson to the ground short of the first down, forcing a Minnesota field goal.
1:09, Cam Newton, QB & Brandon LaFell, WR - Gamers. Panthers trail 21-24, CAR ball on CAR 35. Facing a 4th-and-15, the Panthers have to go for it. Brandon LaFell got behind the corner back and found a soft spot between the corner and safety. Cam Newton hit him with a beautiful pass and LaFell rumbled down the left sideline for a 44 yard gain. LaFell also had the presence of mind to get out of bounds and stop the clock, extending the drive and setting the Panthers up in field goal position to tie the game and force overtime.
:29, Olindo Mare, K - Lamer. Panthers trail 21-24, CAR ball on MIN 13. Shank! Panthers lose by three.
Andrew Sweat is a North Carolina resident and a loyal Carolina Panthers fan. More from this author:
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