Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, October 22, 2006 10:04 pm

Bengals 17, Panthers 14

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 10:04 pm

Grrrr. This was the second game of the season that the Panthers lost when they should have won (at Minnesota being the other one).

If you want to get right down to it, as erratically as the Panthers played, they still would have won this game had they not committed two really dumb penalties on the Bengals’ first scoring drive. Both nullified third-down stops.

Talent-wise, the Bengals are strong but aren’t anywhere near the Panthers’ league. The Panthers held them without a first down in the opening quarter but were unable to mount the kind of quick scores that would have enabled them to put the game away early. And when you let an ostensibly inferior team hang around, you open the door to the possibility that some late weirdness can cost you the game. And Palmer’s 4th-and-1 bomb to Chad Johnson in the middle of the fourth quarter to set up the second touchdown for the Bengals is about as weird as they come. The whole situation was just screaming “TRICK!” to me — if they’d lined up to kick a field goal, I’m sure it would have been a fake, so if *I* knew they were going to throw long …

Bright spots: The O-line continued to play well once they figured out that the Bengals would be shooting the “A” gap — between center and left guard — all day if Mike Wahle didn’t pay attention. Deshaun Foster actually managed to average slightly better than 4 yards a carry for a change, although his longest run was only 15. Steve Smith, continuing a worrisome trend, had two drops early. The first one, on the Panthers’ first play from scrimmage, turned out not to matter. The other one killed a drive. Keyshawn Johnson also played well, although his decision to go behind Kaesviharn instead of in front of him in the end zone resulted in the interception that clinched it for the Bengals — otherwise, he’d have had the TD. Even if the pass had fallen incomplete, the Panthers were looking at a chip-shot field goal, and I’d have liked our chances in overtime.

Linebacker James Anderson played well in relief of the injured Thomas Davis, although he’s not as quick as Davis and that hurt the run defense, particularly in the second half. Chris Gamble broke up a long sideline pass on a great play, although he should have had an interception and he acted like he knew it.

All in all, a tough way to lose. The loss drops them an additional half-game behind the idle Saints, and they face an even tougher game next Sunday night at home against Dallas, who play the Giants tomorrow night. That’ll be the Panthers’ last game before the bye week. If they go into the bye week 5-3 things could be cool, but if they go into it 4-4, particularly if the Saints win again next week, they may have to fight hard just to get a wild card. So far, Fox’s Panther teams have tended to pull things together in the second half of the season. Let’s hope that trend continues.

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