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‘Gamers & Lamers’ in Panthers Vs. Titans Week 10 Game: A Fan’s Analysis
Week 10 was supposed to be the Panthers statement game. Coming off a Week 9 bye and hosting a mediocre Tennessee team, Carolina was supposed to put together a solid 60-minutes and come away with a statement victory.
And boy did the Panthers make a statement against the Titans.
The statement is this - the 2011 Carolina Panthers can be absolutely terrible when Cam Newton and the passing game are held in check. The Panthers began the game against the Titans by giving up a quick punt return for a touchdown, fumbling on the next possession, and surrendering a 43-yard touchdown on Tennessee's next drive. Nine minutes into the game and the Panthers trailed 14-0. The game was over before the halftime show began. So how did the epic collapse happen?
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 10 home loss to the .
14:23, Jonathan Stewart, RB - Lamer. Score tied 0-0, Car ball on CAR 23. The Panthers faced a 2nd-and-7 on the second play of the game. QB Cam Newton went shotgun with Jonathan Stewart lined up to Newton's right and ran a screen play to Stewart. Linemen Ryan Kalil and Geoff Hangartner timed their pull blocks perfectly to set up a wall for Stewart, but Stewart dropped an easy catch in the flat with a lot of open space in front of him. The Panthers failed to convert on third down and the subsequent punt was returned for a touchdown by Tennessee's Marc Mariani.
10:50, Geoff Hangartner, C - Gamer. Panthers trail 0-7, Car ball on CAR 47. On 2nd-and-10 Carolina ran a simple handoff up the middle to Jonathan Stewart. Geoff Hangartner, playing Center, got into the second level of the defense and engaged LB Gerald McRath, opening a gaping hole for Stewart. J-Stew did not get touched until he was 14 yards down field, eventually getting tackled on the Titans 37.
8:24, Greg Olsen, TE - Lamer. Panthers trail 0-7, Car ball on TEN 17. With the Panthers driving in the red zone, Olsen caught a pass at the Titans 10 yard line, was hit, and fumbled. Tennessee recovered and points were taken off the board for the Panthers after Olsen's costly turnover.
5:55, Darius Butler, CB & Sherrod Martin, S - Lamers. Panthers trail 0-7, Ten ball on CAR 43. On 3rd-and-8 Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck hit WR Damian Williams on an innocent-looking short pass to the left. CB Darius Butler came in out of control and whiffed on the tackle while S Sherrod Martin took a terrible angle and did not even touch Williams, who took the ball 43 yards to the end zone. Both Butler and Martin were in position to individually make tackles after a short gain, and both missed badly.
2:04, Jordan Pugh, S - Lamer. Panthers trail 0-14, Ten ball on CAR 32. Tennessee faced a 3rd-and-5 and the game was already getting away from the Panthers. The defense needed a stop without surrendering any more points and Tennessee would have faced a long field goal if they failed to convert their third down play. The Titans ran a pass play to TE Jared Cook, who was covered by Jordan Pugh. Pugh held Cook as the ball fell incomplete and the flag was thrown on Pugh, resulting in a first down and an extended Titans drive. Tennessee ended up converting on a closer 38-yard field goal a few plays later and pushed the lead to 17-0.
8:52, Greg Hardy, DE - Gamer. Panthers trail 0-17, Ten ball on TEN 28. The Titans faced a 3rd-and-1 and ran a fake handoff to RB Chris Johnson to the right. Greg Hardy came off the edge to put pressure on Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck tried to dump a quick pass of to Chris Johnson but Greg Hardy got his hands up to knock down the pass, forcing a Tennessee punt. On the Titans next possession Hardy sniffed out a screen pass to RB Javon Ringer and knocked it down as well, nearly picking off the pass.
1:57, Charles Godfrey, S - Gamer. Panthers trail 0-17, Ten ball on TEN 20. Tennessee faced a 3rd-and-1 as the first half was running down. RB Javon Ringer ran straight up the gut as S Charles Godfrey came off the left edge. Ringer ran into his own blockers as Godfrey wrapped him up at the line of scrimmage, preventing him from getting the necessary yard to get a first down. Godfrey's tackle forced a Titans punt and gave the Panthers another possession before the end of the half.
:57, Byron Bell, T - Lamer. Panthers trail 0-17, Car ball on CAR 34. On 3rd-and-6 the Panthers were hurrying to get into position to score before the half. RT Byron Bell moved early and was flagged for a 5-yard false start penalty. Carolina converted the 3rd-and-11 on the next play. The drive ended with a missed 50-yard field goal by Olindo Mare to end the half. The extra five yards from Bell's penalty may have been the difference between a missed field goal and a make.
:28, Cam Newton, QB - Gamer. Panthers trail 0-17, Car ball on CAR 42. Cam Newton dropped back to pass and the pocket collapsed. Newton escaped and ran for an incredibly athletic 26-yard scramble. Michael Vick is the only other QB in the league with the athleticism to make the run Newton did. Amazing.
:09, Greg Olsen, TE - Lamer. Panthers trail 0-17, Car ball on TEN 32. On 2nd-and-10 Carolina ran one final play before setting up for a field goal. Greg Olsen ran an out patter on the left side and was wide open. Cam Newton hit him right in the hands with the pass at the Tennesse 15 and Olsen just dropped it. Kicker Olindo Mare missed a 50-yard field goal on the next play to end the half. Had Olsen made the easy catch, Mare likely makes the 32-yard field goal.
8:00, Charles Johnson, DE - Lamer. Panthers trail 0-17, Ten ball on TEN 14. Facing 3rd-and-15 Matt Hasselbeck threw an incompletion and Tennessee would have been forced to punt near their own end zone. But after the play was over, Charles Johnson shoved a Titans lineman in the face and drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, extending Tennessee's drive. The drive ended three plays later when Chris Gamble picked off Matt Hasselbeck, but Johnson's penalty was absolutely boneheaded.
6:25, Chris Gamble, CB - Gamer. Panthers trail 0-17, Ten ball on TEN 35. Chris Gamble was matched up in man coverage against WR Donnie Avery and simply outplayed Avery for the ball. Avery broke toward the middle and Matt Hasselbeck's throw went toward the sideline. Gamble read the play and picked off the pass, returning it 24 yards to the Tennessee 19 and setting up the Panthers only score of the game - a 29-yard field goal.
2:45, Captain Munnerlyn, CB - Lamer. Panthers trail 3-17, Ten ball on TEN 37. On 1st-and-6 Titans WR Damian Williams ran a simple streak down the left sideline with Captain Munnerlyn in coverage. Williams blew by Munnerlyn and caught a 40-yard pass on a great throw from Matt Hasselbeck, setting up the Titans for a field goal four plays later and pushing the lead to 20-3 to end the third quarter.
8:58, Byron Bell, RT - Lamer. Panthers trail 3-23, Car ball on TEN 17. Trailing by 17 in the fourth quarter, the Panthers went no huddle and Cam Newton immediately completed consecutive passes for 19, 11, 18, and 15 yards before his first incompletion. As Newton dropped back to pass on 2nd-and-10 inside the red zone, Byron Bell grabbed the facemask of Tennessee DE William Hayes, drawing a 15-yard personal foul. The penalty backed the Panthers up to the Titans 32 yard line and forced a 2nd-and-25. Two plays later Cam Newton was intercepted as he tried to make up the lost yardage from Bell's penalty, effectively ending the game.
8:43, Terrell McClain, DT - Gamer. Panthers trail 3-23, Ten ball on TEN 17. With the game no longer in doubt, Tennessee's speedy RB Chris Johnson took a handoff and sprinted down the left sideline for a 25 yard gain. DT Terrell McClain never gave up on the play and sprinted down field to ultimately record the tackle. This hustle play showed a lot of pride and determination from the rookie DT.
1:01, Byron Bell, RT - Lamer. Panthers trail 3-30, Car ball on TEN 42. On consecutive plays to end an already embarrassing game, RT Byron Bell gave up an awful sack on first down and was flagged for a hold on second down. Bell's fourth quarter was cover-your-eyes bad.
:25, Steve Smith, WR - Lamer. Panthers trail 3-30, Car ball on TEN 42. As if the drubbing at home was not hard enough for Panthers fans to stomach, Steve Smith decided to take a cheap shot on CB Alterraun Verner and ripped off his helmet while "blocking" him, drawing a penalty on Smith and starting a skirmish between the two teams. Classy move, Smitty. Really, really classy.
While the Panthers record now stands at 2-7, at least most of their losses were competitive and came down to the last couple of possessions. There was a silver lining behind each of the previous losses as Cam Newton improved and continued to impress, with moral victories sprinkled among the losing record. But there were no moral victories against the Titans. Just an embarrassing home loss to a mediocre Tennessee team.
This was definitely not the statement the Panthers wanted as the season continues to slip away.
Andrew Sweat is a North Carolina resident and loyal Panthers fan. More from this author:
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