Very entertaining Panthers game today, for a change. I was in Cleveland watching it, and I enjoyed the back-and-forth of it and the fact that Carolina rushed for a season-high 151 yards and tied its season high for points -- those were good things. But since it was still a 24-23 loss to Cleveland, it's time for the traditional "5 things I didn't like":
1. Going for two (or not). I know it's easy to second-guess now. But even when it was happening early in the third quarter I thought John Fox was making a mistake by not going for two points when Captain Munnerlyn scored on a 37-yard interception return to cut Cleveland's lead to 21-19.
I know the conventional wisdom is to never go for a two-pointer until the fourth quarter, but why should a 1-10 team care about conventional wisdom? The Panthers struggle so hard to score TDs (they have 11 offensive TDs in 11 games). So when you have a chance to tie the game, you must take it instead of kicking an extra point.
If Carolina had made that two-pointer, all John Kasay's 42-yard miss on the last play of the game would have meant was that it was time for overtime.
2. Kasay's kick. I know Cleveland Browns Stadium is a tough place for a kicker, but Kasay had already knocked two through from almost the same distance on the same side of the field. The veteran almost always comes through in those situations -- this time he didn't, ruining an incredible drive for the Panthers in the final minute.
3. David Gettis. The rookie continues to be a feast-or-famine receiver. After an 88-yard TD last week, he didn't catch a single pass Sunday and was never targeted by Clausen. Now Clausen wasn't looking downfield much, but still...
4. Slow defensive starts. Carolina's defense played well in the second half -- actually outscoring the Browns' offense 7-3 in that half. But the first part of the game was awful, as the Panthers allowed three TDs in Cleveland's first four possessions. And Peyton Hillis (194 total yards, 3 TDs) kept simply running over and through Panthers.
5. Penalties. Carolina had 8 for 68, and three of them early gave the Browns third-down conversions just when it seemed like the Panther D had gotten off the field.