Sunday afternoon was supposed to be another perfect chapter to the story of Cam Newton’s return to Carolina. The first drive of the game provided a lot of promise for those thoughts, as the Panther offense drove straight down the field to take the early 7-0 lead on a Cam Newton 10-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Moore. However, after that, the Panthers were in a battle with a Washington Football Team that many expected would roll over in the crazy environment that was Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. Instead, Washington was able to move the football up and down the field against the Panthers, finishing with 369 yards of total offense, including 190 on the ground.
Jim Szoke, one of the voices of the Panthers for the Panther Radio Network, joined the Mac Attack earlier this morning and point to the struggles of the run defense as the main reason that the team fell short on Sunday. “In the losses this year, Carolina is giving up 163 rushing yards per game,” Szoke explained. “In wins, they’re giving up 56 yards per game. It is night and day.” Szoke said that there was a residual effect from this that also factored into this game. “That (lack of run defense) leads to a difference of 11 minutes in the game of time of possession and sixteen more offensive plays for Washington than Carolina.”
One of the other big factors in the Panthers’ loss on Sunday was the inability to get off the field on third down, something that reminded Szoke of the struggles that the team had in that department last year. “They (Washington) go 6-13 on third down, they extend drives.” Even in situations where Washington was unable to pick up first downs on third down, they found success, such as the 3rd & 21 pass to Adam Humphries that went for eighteen yards and eventually set up the 4th & 3 conversion from Taylor Heinicke to Jordan Bates that led to the 36-yard field goal from Joey Slye that gave Washington the lead for good. Not quite the storybook ending that the team was hoping for.