Oh how it stings to be a Carolina Panthers fan.
The Panthers fell to the visiting Seattle Seahawks 12-7 in the regular-season opener on Sunday.
The defeat came in familiar disappointing fashion – squandering a second-half lead and chance to win with self-inflicted wounds and missed opportunities.
Despite keeping the Seahawks out of the end zone until the final quarter, the Panthers – as was so often the case last season – were not able to seize numerous opportunities to mount a sizeable lead on their opponent.
Until the final quarter, Seattle's only points came from the leg of Steven Hauschka, who connected on field goals of 27 and 40 yards.
Despite this strong performance from the defense, it was familiar mishaps – dropped passes, penalties, hyper-conservative play calling – that kept Cam Newton and the offense from establishing any kind of rhythm.
The team's only score of the night came in the second quarter when Newton capped off an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown strike to Steve Smith.
After Seattle failed to convert the two-point conversion, the Panthers looked poised to retake the lead behind a long drive into Seattle territory.
Then the unthinkable happened.
The Panthers wouldn't get the ball back.
Pete Carroll's team picked up four first downs and drained the remaining 5:25 from the clock.
While it's only one game, this loss has to be disconcerting for Panthers fans. The team doesn't look as if it has made any progress from last season in terms of learning how to close out opponents – a serious indictment on head coach Ron Rivera and his staff.
The Panthers will play their first road game next week when they travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium to take on the 0-1 Buffalo Bills.
Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.
- The Panthers lost starting right guard Garry Williams for the season with a torn ACL/MCL.
- Cam Newton finished 16 of 23 for 125 yards and a touchdown. His counterpart Russell Wilson finished an efficient 25 of 33 for 320 yards and a score.
- The Panthers held Marshawn Lynch to just 43 yards rushing on 17 carries.
- Greg Olsen led the Panthers with 56 yards receiving on five receptions.
- Charles Godfrey, Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis led the Panthers defense with nine total tackles each.
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