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Jeff Gravley

Panthers unable to handle Niners bait

Posted January 12
Updated January 13

The season ended Sunday with an out-of-character loss for the Carolina Panthers. Before that, they boasted a stretch of wins to claim the NFC South Division and played pretty clean football.

Clean as in fewer mistakes than their opponent. Clean as in not a lot of dead-ball penalties. Sunday against San Francisco, the Panthers were hit with eight penalties, including two personal fouls.

I asked Luke Kuechly and Captain Munnerlyn if that was because of the emotions of the playoffs or simply uncharacteristic mistakes.

Kuechly said it was out of character and they needed to control of their emotions and just do their job.

Munnerlyn told me his personal foul was an early statement but emphasized "EARLY."

None of the extra-curricular activities should seep-out in crunch time. He went on to explain how they knew the Niners would test their patience, hoping to draw penalties “so they could pick up cheap yards.”

The problem was the Panthers took the bait. Munnerlyn got flagged for a head-butt to get that ball rolling.

But what about the head-butt by Anquan Boldin that went flagless? What about the Niners having 12 men on the field that went unnoticed? What about the 3rd down, end zone call on Panthers defensive back Drayton Florence for not playing the ball? Was that a catchable ball?

I probably shouldn’t ask that since it was in the same end zone where the final play against the Patriots happened.

They are a part of the inexact activity of sports. Those penalties were not why the Panthers lost their much-anticipated, first playoff game since 2008.

The season ended because the Niners came to town with a full deck on offense. Colin Kaepernick had Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis running routes -- something he didn’t in the Panthers win in San Fran.

The season ended for Carolina, in-part, because of their offensive red-zone woes. In the first half, the Panthers had  seven, yes SEVEN, goal-to-go plays and only got THREE points out of it.

Cam Newton, Jordan Gross and Greg Olsen said that was the difference between Sunday’s loss and the November win on Niners turf. They knew 10 points wouldn’t be enough to beat San Francisco this time.

It’s all a part of a growing process as a team and players. Many Panthers got their first taste of NFL playoff football and they hope it’s not another five years until they make it again.

As frustrating as it was for the Panthers playoff run to end, think back to the helplessness of a 1-3 start to start the season. The last thing on our minds were the playoffs.

Now the Panthers need to figure out a way to win a post-season game, something they haven’t done since Jan. 15, 2005.

13 Comments

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  • ewatsonp2 Jan 13, 4:06 a.m.

    just find another home newton

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Jan 13, 5:51 a.m.

    The offense has been sputtering for weeks now, especially in the red zone, and that came up huge yesterday. Some of the calls/no calls are frustrating, but this loss is squarely on the Panthers. Penalties are something that have hurt the Panthers every week, and I hope that issue is addressed.

  • I am not who you think I am Jan 13, 7:44 a.m.

    8 penaltys for 70 yards- 5 sacks and 2 turnovers. you don't win playoff games with stats like that. It's been smoke and mirrors most of the year and it showed up yesterday. Panthers just aren't ready for the playoffs

  • mxteam44 Jan 13, 7:49 a.m.

    You can't blame this loss on Newton. He played great in the 1st half. That TD throw to Smitty was about as good as it gets. The Niners just made some adjustments at half-time that kept the Panthers from getting any sort of rhythm in the 2nd half. Stupid penalties at crucial times (even though the officiating was horrid) really hurt. This was a team loss, not just Newton. I for one am glad he's suiting up for our guys. He's only going to get better. Just wait and see.

    Great, fun season for us fans this year. Keep up the improvement next year and we'll be back in the playoffs!!!

  • MadMaxx Jan 13, 9:11 a.m.

    need to buy us some referees like SF did. Sorriest officiating in a long time, blatant missed calls and non calls called for SF. Hopefully the league will do something..........probably let them do the Super Bowl and give them a raise.

  • RaleighPirate Jan 13, 9:19 a.m.

    Not making excuses for the Panthers because they did not play disciplined football yesterday but "SEVEN, goal-to-go plays" did not equal seven trips in the red zone. I believe these seven plays were from two trips to the red zone. I'm sure someone will correct me here is this is wrong. They still need points in each trip into the red zone but that is what we have seen from the Riverboat Gambler this season. On to next year . . . .

  • packguy Jan 13, 10:42 a.m.

    It would be well to remember that the 49ers lost the Super Bowl last season because of a blown holding call in the end zone. The refs are inconsistent all the time and you have to rise above the blown calls/bad calls and be good enough to win any way...

  • common tater Jan 13, 11:02 a.m.

    Hate to say it, but even with the bad/missed calls, the best team won. When the other team gets points at the end of long drives and your team can't, that's the measure of the team. Sad to see that "pro" football players can't control their emotions and avoid fouls.

  • jeremyshaner2 Jan 13, 11:31 a.m.

    Panthers just didn't match up well; there's really nothing else to blame this on. I especially wouldn't be telling Newton to find another home. I think they should draft/ trade for a receiver (Hakeem Nicks, perhaps), and draft/ trade for a lockdown corner/ safety. The defensive secondary is a few pieces short, and Cam's got to have someone to throw to besides Smith & LaFell. The offensive line played admirably, but they could use some help, too. On to next year.

  • kikinc Jan 13, 11:51 a.m.

    Panthers just didn't match up well; there's really nothing else to blame this on. I especially... View More

    — Posted by jeremyshaner2

    They don't even need to trade for Nicks. He's a free agent, and the Giants don't seem to be that interested in him. Rumor has it that Nicks would like to go to the Jets, though. At least that's what my Jets fans friends have been saying...

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