On Thursday night, the NFL announced that the Carolina Panthers will get their first Hall of Fame inductee later this summer after they announced during the NFL Honors Ceremony. Mills played for the Panthers from 1995 to 1997 to close out his career, totaling 331 total tackles, 10.0 sacks and seven interceptions. In those three seasons, Mills finished in the top five in Defensive Player of the Year voting and was voted All-Pro in 1996. In his 12 year NFL career, Mills played in 181 career games, racking up 1,265 total tackles, 20.5 sacks, 23 fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions, earning five trips to the Pro Bowl and being named All-Pro the one time.
The Panthers playoff hopes are officially done as of Sunday after a blowout 32-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the team's home finale for the 20212 season. The team was dominated from start to finish by a Bucs team that was as beat up as any team that the Panthers have faced this season, allowing 391 yards of total offense, 6.3 yards per play and 159 yards on the ground, all while facing a team that was without their leading rusher and their top two receivers. Meanwhile, the Panthers continued their struggles offensively, totaling just 273 of total offense and somehow only putting six points on the board in this one.
Sunday really felt like a last ditch effort for the Panthers to save a season that was going off the rails after a 3-0 start and that last ditch effort fell short against the Atlanta Falcons thanks to three turnovers and another lackluster overall performance in their eighth loss in the last ten games. This is the fifth straight loss that the team has suffered at home after two straight wins to begin the season, wins that look even less impressive now than they did at the time.
Coming into last Sunday reunion game in Bank of America Stadium with the Washington Football Team, the Carolina Panthers had some high hopes about the remainder of the 2021-22 season and who could blame them. The team had just brought back arguably the most iconic figure in the history of the franchise and then proceed to go on the road to Arizona and take down one of the NFL best teams in dominant fashion.
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.
For Carolina Panther fans, this past week still probably feels like a dream and rightfully so, especially after Sunday. As former Panther and current NFL on FOX analyst Greg Olsen said on Friday on the FNZ airwaves, this Cam Newton-Carolina Panthers reunion was something that most never saw coming and that no one could have imagined happening so quickly either. Newton signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday and traveled to Arizona in a game where most didn't even know if he was going to be active and felt he would be extremely limited if he was. Newton was pretty limited playing just eight snaps in the game, but no one could have predicted the course of how things would happen on Sunday.
The Panthers struggled to move the football in this one, totaling just 240 yards of total offense, including just 78 rushing yards on 23 carries. While the Panthers had their issues offensively, it wasn't as if the Patriots faired much better, as they finished the day with just 273 yards of total offense to their name and averaged just 4.6 yards per play to the Panthers 4.2 per play. As Jim Szoke, one of the voices of the Panther Radio Network explained, though, turnovers were the biggest difference in this one. "In a game like this, that's when the turnovers become so critical," Szoke told the Mac Attack on Monday morning. "Yesterday they (New England) had two, but the three we had were so egregious in terms of why they happened." The Panthers turned the football over three consecutive drives with back-to-back-to-back Sam Darnold interceptions, which resulted in ten points for the Patriots, seemingly putting the Panthers away late in the third quarter.