Joe Ovies

Panthers hit with Kryptonite

Posted January 13

1. The Carolina Panthers were not playing the same San Francisco 49ers team from Week 10. The moment of clarity arrived late in the second quarter of the NFC Divisional Round, after the Panthers settled for a field goal. Trailing 10-6 with 3:41 left before halftime, the Niners began exposing Carolina's secondary with their compliment of healthy receivers.

San Francisco entered Panthers territory after Colin Kaepernick hit Anquan Boldin for gains of 12 yards and 14 yards. Kaepernick found Michael Crabtree, absent from the last meeting due to injury, on the left for a 20-yard gain. The Niners set up for a 1st-and-goal after Kaepernick connected with Boldin again for a 15-yard pass.

Vernon Davis, who was knocked out early in the previous meeting, hauled in a touchdown pass from a yard out after the Niners were given a fresh set of downs following a pass interference penalty on Drayton Florence. 

After Carolina sputtered out of the gate to start the second half, San Francisco dropped another doozy on the defense when Boldin set up the back-breaking touchdown with a 45-yard completion to the Panthers' 2-yard line.

Down 20-10 midway through the third quarter and unable to break free from San Francisco's defensive stranglehold, the game was effectively over for the Panthers.

2. The Panthers faced two 4th-and-goal situations in the first half. Head coach Ron Rivera put on his riverboat gambler hat when presented with the first and was rewarded with a touchdown on the following drive after San Francisco was pinned on their own 1-yard line. Rivera was probably right to take the points with a field goal the second time, but everything went downhill for Carolina after building a 10-6 lead.

Bad defense, bad penalties and Cam Newton's interceptions in the second half all contributed to the unraveling. 

3. Cam Newton was fantastic in the opening half against San Francisco, but Colin Kaepernick ended up getting the best of his counterpart and showed him up in the process. 

The quarterback wasn't done after the game, taking to Instagram for a little more smack talk directed at Newton.

Kaepernick finished with 196 yards on 15-of-28 passing with a touchdown to go along with his score on the ground. Where Kaepernick exceeded and Newton failed in the second half had plenty to do with each team's respective pass rush. San Francisco did an excellent job negating Carolina's defensive front, which only sacked Kaepernick once. The Panthers' couldn't provide the same level of protection. Newton was sacked five times and pressured into bad throws, including two interceptions. 

The real Kryptonite was applied to wide receiver Steve Smith. After hauling in a touchdown in the second quarter, the Niners clamped down on Smith and made him a non-factor in the second half. 

4. The Carolina Panthers were penalized eight times for 73 yards. Some of them were warranted. Other calls not so much. 

While I'm not interested in focusing on the officials, the discrepancy on head-butting was egregious. If precedent was set flagging Captain Munnerlyn, the refs failed to follow it twice late in the second quarter during San Francisco's scoring drive.

Then again, officials also couldn't count to 12. Perhaps we're expecting too much from the NFL.

5. Let's look at the glass half-full and call Carolina's season a success. The Panthers went 12-4, won the NFC South and finally found an identity. 

Carolina managed to mask their deficiencies rather than let them sink the season, which plenty of fans and pundits expected following another shaky start to the year. At the very least, Carolina knows what it needs to fix in the offseason. Now it's up to general manager Dave Gettleman to address those issues. 

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  • lewiskr45 Jan 14, 8:44 a.m.

    I missed Kap's post game stuff, but his other antics are getting tiresome real fast.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    You mean like winning, going to NFC championship games, and a Super Bowl? And you're not tired... View More

    — Posted by lewiskr45

    I find the trash talking and taunting in general to be lame. Cam never engaged in that.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    But Steve Smith does, one of the worst in the league, you ok with that?

  • dave437 Jan 14, 8:00 a.m.

    The 'moment of clarity' is when San Fran stoned the Panthers on first-and-goal.... twice.

  • Gunnstigator Jan 13, 7:19 p.m.

    I missed Kap's post game stuff, but his other antics are getting tiresome real fast.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    Good to see you Hammerhead...when this season started I wrote about the great job Gettlemen had... View More

    — Posted by JamesRamBond

    Great points, Smitty. I was more optimistic about next season until I read all the players that will be free agents next season. Hardy has to be a priority, Jordan Gross, Mike Mitchell, Brandon LaFell, Munnerlyn are all important players as well. Cam is eligible for a contract extension. This will cost big bucks, and I hope JR is willing to pay the price it will take to keep this group in Panther uniforms next year.

  • Gunnstigator Jan 13, 7:08 p.m.

    I missed Kap's post game stuff, but his other antics are getting tiresome real fast.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    I thought it was a cheap shot by Kaepernick to mock Cam by doing the Superman pose and then do his usual bicep love fest. I lost respect for him after that. Cam may do his Superman stuff, but he doesn't mock other players. I hope Seattle pounds him and his stuffy coach next weekend.

  • JamesRamBond Jan 13, 1:03 p.m.

    I missed Kap's post game stuff, but his other antics are getting tiresome real fast.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    Good to see you Hammerhead...when this season started I wrote about the great job Gettlemen had done in getting better players, and he has but you can't turn this think around in a year and midway through the winning streak I was still talking about the lack of "skill players" and a patched together O line. Run blocking was bad all year. Think of the 49ers PlayMakers and you think All-Pro...Gore, Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin ( I said it was the best off season aquisition of the year), Michael Crabtree...the best we have is a guy who plays way bigger than his size and he is getting older...Smitty...Olsen is good, but we need another TE for 2 running packages...Panthers are not quite there yet but they will get there and are definitely on an upward trajectory, and Cam is still only 24 and Kuechly is only 22...

  • Hammerhead Jan 13, 11:41 a.m.

    I missed Kap's post game stuff, but his other antics are getting tiresome real fast.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    You mean like winning, going to NFC championship games, and a Super Bowl? And you're not tired... View More

    — Posted by lewiskr45

    I find the trash talking and taunting in general to be lame. Cam never engaged in that.

  • lewiskr45 Jan 13, 11:26 a.m.

    I missed Kap's post game stuff, but his other antics are getting tiresome real fast.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    You mean like winning, going to NFC championship games, and a Super Bowl? And you're not tired of Newton's stupid antics too? Pretending to be an airplane or superman?

  • Smilester Jan 13, 11:21 a.m.

    Doesn't take much kryptonite to affect Cam. Called his own number on 4th and goal from the one... View More

    — Posted by iron fist

    I will never fault them for using Cam inside the 1. That is the first time I can remember him being stopped from that distance on the goalline in 3 years. That's why there are only 2 players who have more rushing TDs than Cam since 2011. The refs didn't cost the Panthers the game. They didn't help either but to blame the loss on the refs would be ignoring the facts. The fact was that the Panthers didn't take advantage in the red zone & turned it over twice. Great season & next year look out. If they can keep this team intact for the most part & add some depth at WR, OL & at CB the Panthers will be in the mix in January next year too.

  • Hammerhead Jan 13, 11:08 a.m.

    I missed Kap's post game stuff, but his other antics are getting tiresome real fast.

  • iron fist Jan 13, 10:11 a.m.

    Doesn't take much kryptonite to affect Cam. Called his own number on 4th and goal from the one and got nothing. How many times does a team try to run up the middle before they realize its not going to work.

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