GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- The Carolina Panthers put their fans back into full panic mode Sunday, getting eviscerated, 38-17, by Green Bay in a game which will also be remembered as the one in which middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was kicked out.
Other than Kuechly's third-quarter ejection -- for striking an official after coming out of a pileup (he said later he didn't know it was a ref) -- this was one of the least dramatic and most thorough beatdowns in Carolina's 20-year history.
By the end of the first quarter, Green Bay led 21-0 on the scoreboard and 172-5 in total yardage, and after that it was really just a matter of playing out the string.
The Panthers are 3-3-1 and still alone in first place in the NFC South after Atlanta and New Orleans both lost Sunday. But those three losses have been so excruciatingly bad that they feel worse than a .500 team. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (three TD passes) had his way with Carolina all afternoon, but just as troublesome was Carolina's inability to muster any of the offense that had led the Panthers to 37 points the week before in Cincinnati.
Other than tight end Greg Olsen, who had a 100-yard receiving day, the Panthers hardly had any offense worth noting. They didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter, when they were already down, 38-3. The last two TDs made the score sound somewhat respectable, but anyone who watched it knows this was a complete whipping.
The Panthers have now given up at least 37 points in four of their last five games. When they are bad, they are very, very bad -- and the worst culprit of all is the defensive secondary. It showed up on the Packers' very first drive, when Jordy Nelson first beat Antoine Cason up the sideline and then sidestepped Roman Harper so thoroughly that Harper couldn't even get a hand on Nelson. Poof -- 59-yard touchdown with less than four minutes gone, and the rout was on.
What can Carolina do? Not a lot, except get better from the inside-out. The Panthers are mostly stuck with the players they have got. They next play a home game against Seattle, the defending Super Bowl champions who have come to Charlotte and won each of the last two years. Seattle lost Sunday, too, and also looks vulnerable -- but not nearly as vulnerable as the Panthers.
1 year ago