Going to extremes as Carolina drops another heartbreaker, 24-21, at home to Minnesota Sunday. The Panthers dropped to 2-6 entering their bye week (also, here's a link to the video Panthers beat writer Joe Person and I did following the game to recap the painful loss):
Worst yank: Olindo Mare missed a 31-yard field goal that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime with 29 seconds to go.
Best fourth-down play: Facing a fourth-and-15 from his own 35 with 1:09 to go, Cam Newton fired a strike to Brandon LaFell, who turned it into a 44-yard play to set up the final dramatics.
Worst offensive run: The Panthers had three straight three-and-outs in the second half, which helped wear down their defense and also meant that their 21-14 lead disappeared.
Best run defense: Carolina did a fairly admirable job on Adrian Peterson, who got 86 yards in 21 carries but never had a run of longer than 15 yards. On the other hand, Peterson hurt Carolina several times in the passing game, gaining 76 more yards on five short receptions.
Best stats in a losing cause: Cam Newton had 290 yards passing, three TDs, no interceptions and a QB rating of 117.6. And he lost. It didn't help, however, that he also lost his first two fumbles of the season (Minnesota would turn both into TDs).
Worst penalty: Steve Smith was flagged for holding on that final drive when a Newton run had gotten Carolina to a first-and-goal inside the Minnesota 10. Smith didn't like the call, nor did coach Ron Rivera.
Worst prediction: Unlike last year's team, in which you could almost always pick the Panthers correctly by choosing them to lose, this one is quite unpredictable to me. I've now missed the Panthers' result the past three weeks in a row -- I picked them to beat Minnesota. The only way I can guarantee that it won't be four straight Sundays is the Panthers have a bye Nov.6th.
Worst tackle: Chris Gamble missed a critical, one-on-one third-down tackle against Minnesota's Percy Harvin that helped the Vikings immensely in the fourth quarter on their field-goal drive that ultimately won the game.
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