The Carolina Panthers' 31-18 loss to the New York Giants Sunday wasn't surprising -- the Giants were favored to win -- but the way that they lost the game was. From my viewpoint -- which for Week 1 was in front of a TV, just like most Panther fans -- here are the 5 things I liked the least:
1) Matt Moore's performance. Three end-zone interceptions?! That's really bad, and exactly the sorts of mistakes that Moore avoided in his great December (when there was far less pressure on him) in the preseason. Moore also fumbled, held the ball too long on several occasions and (to be fair) threw some arrows, including for Carolina's lone TD to Steve Smith. He also got very little help from his offensive line -- Jordan Gross got beaten badly on the fourth-quarter sack that likely led to a Moore concussion and puts into serious question his availability for next Sunday.
2) 17-2. That was the margin the Panthers were outscored by the Giants in the second half. The two points came on a punt block once the game was decided. Carolina led 16-14 at halftime, then disintegrated. Lay the blame for that one largely on Coach John Fox and his staff, who were definitely "out-adjusted" during the break.
3) The running game. Where was it in the second half? Jonathan Stewart ran for a franchise-record 206 yards against the Giants only nine months ago. He looked like a different back -- and the offensive line was certainly no great shakes -- in this one.
4) The defensive secondary. I'm not listing these in order of importance, or else this might be No.1. Charlotte's Hakeem Nicks looked like he was running through high school secondaries in our area like he used to -- he kept getting waaaaay open. Richard Marshall in particular had a tough day, but everyone got blow-torched a few times.
5) Pass rush. This goes hand-in-hand with No.4. Where was the fantastic rush that led to so many preseason sacks? I hardly heard any defensive lineman's name called all afternoon.
Honorable mention: J.J. Jansen's horrid snap that got halfway to Jason Baker; the three Panther passes (rather than a single run) on first-and-goal from the Giants 4; Daryl Johnston's strange sportcoat (what color was that thing -- salmon?)
6 months ago