Panthers Comeback Comes up Short in Season Opener
(Photo Credit: Carolina Panthers)
The Carolina Panthers opened their 2019 season on Sunday, at home, against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Panthers started the season with seven players on the inactive list, including Vernon Butler, Greg Little (concussion), Bruce Irvin, and Will Grier.
The two teams kicked off in the Bank of America stadium, with Carolina having the first possession –– and ending the possession early with a fumble. The Rams also were unable to produce points in their opening possession.
The Panthers attempted to put their first points on the board with a 53-yard field goal, but rookie kicker Joey Slye missed his first NFL field goal attempt when it went wide right of the goal post.
The score remained 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Rams put the first score on the board when Greg Zuerlein kicked a 49-yard field goal giving the Rams the first lead of the game, 3-0. Following a Carolina fumble, the Rams were able to convert the early play into points, and Malcom Brown scored the first touchdown of the game with 12:44 left in the half.
Zuerlein kicked another field goal, giving the Rams the 13-0 lead over the Panthers, but Slye answered for the Panthers when he kicked a 46-yard field goal to put the Panthers on the scoreboard at the end of the second quarter, 13-3.
At halftime, Carolina starting quarterback, Cam Newton, had thrown 13/17 for 121 yards. Los Angeles starting quarterback Jared Goff had thrown 11/20 for 79 yards. Christian McCaffrey led with 11 carries for 65 rushing yards, and DJ Moore recorded five receptions for 60 yards receiving. At the end of the first half, Los Angeles stayed on top with the 13-3 lead over Carolina.
Rams’ kicker Zuerlein opened the third quarter in the same way he did the second quarter when he kicked a long field goal to further the Los Angeles lead over Carolina –– 16-3.
Carolina finally scored their first touchdown with 8:31 left on the clock in the third quarter. McCaffrey rushed for eight yards after receiving a direct snap, and Slye kicked the extra point giving the Panthers a six-point defect, 16-10. The Rams responded with another touchdown by Brown, ending a possession lasting for 13 plays, leading the Panthers 23-10.
As he did in the first half, Panthers kicker Slye, finished out the third quarter with a 52-yard field goal, closing the lead to ten points, 23-13.
To begin the fourth quarter, McCaffrey again ran in a pass, scoring the touchdown, and Slye made the extra point, closing Rams lead to 23-20. James Bradbury was able to intercept a pass halfway through the quarter, Goff’s only interception for the game, but the Panthers were able to convert the interception into points on the board.
With 6:37 left in the game, Goff threw a touchdown pass to Tyler Higbee, which opened up the lead for the Rams 30-20, and the Rams intercepted the ball in the very next possession, but failed to turn the opportunity into points, when Zuerlein missed a 41-yard field goal.
Carolina made a comeback attempt when Alex Armah scored the second Panthers touchdown in the game with 1:58 left on the clock. The Panthers were unable to close the lead, and the game ended with the Rams on top 30-27. Cam Newton and team were strong in the fourth quarter, with Newton finishing out the game 25/38 for 239 yards, and Christian McCaffrey led the team in rushing and receiving yards, with 19 carries for 128 yards and two touchdown and 10 receptions for 81 yards. However, the Panthers missed several opportunities that could have made the difference in the game and came up short for the season opening game at home versus the Rams.
Next up for the Panthers, NFC South division rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night.