Tied at 27 with 1:42 seconds, Graham Gano lined up for a 52-yard kick and an opportunity to right two missed kicks from the week before. It was another clutch moment where Gano failed to make a clutch kick, but also leaving Seattle in good field position with 1:40 left to only go 20 yards for a chance to win. The Seahawks wouldn’t squander the opportunity as Russell Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for a 43-yard gain after Captain Munnerlyn twisted and turned only to realize he was about 10 yards out of position. Sebastian Janikowski’s 31-yd field goal would put the game away as time expired, delivering Carolina their third consecutive loss.
There were a lot of mistakes made in this game beyond those in the last two minutes. Corn Elder struggled replacing Donte Jackson who suffered a quad injury early. Carolina tried to Munnerlyn on the outside with equally disappointing results. It wasn’t only defensive problems either. Carolina’s offense failed to convert on multiple red zone and short-yardage opportunities that could have put the Seahawks in a more desperate situation rather than allowing them to hang around.
The mistakes and “missed opportunities” piled up and showed after the game. Coaches and players were visibly frustrated after losing their third straight game, left desperately searching for answers without turning the blame on each other. Veteran Julius Peppers quickly sought to prevent the loss from contaminating the locker room, stating, “we have to worry about ourselves and we have to stick together and move forward.”
Ron Rivera had a similar message in his post-game presser, but he also highlighted that big plays and “missed opportunities” were the real reason for the collapse. “We’ve got guys who got to step up and make plays, Rivera bemoaned.
As Rivera closed with “losing hurts,” snatching something off the podium as he left, a distraught Cam Newton gathered his composure with a towel over his head in the locker room.Minutes later, Cam masterfully handled his post-game presser, citing some things he personally “needs to shore up, and that’s the only thing I can really control.” He followed, “I need to put my best self out there to help my team win.” “We can’t fool ourselves”, he continued, this is our third loss and at the end of the day, there’s no need to panic, but we have to seize the moment better than we are.”
Cam Newton sitting at his locker with a towel draped over him and his head cupped in his hands. Just devastated by this loss.— Steve Reed (@SteveReedAP) November 25, 2018
Cam was a little dejected, but his frustration was measured and he handled the adversity, like he has all season, as best as one could want. Perhaps the most difficult part for Cam has come from the astonishment that Carolina has crumpled under the pressure over the last three games. “If someone said this was going to happen three weeks ago,” Cam claimed, “I would have slapped them.”
Struggling with the loss the most, Greg Olsen was at a loss for words after the game. Generally one of the more stabilizing voices, Olsen’s body language showed his frustration as he repeatedly mumbled, “I don’t know.” As he struggled to find words to quantify the loss, he exclaimed, “we got a lot of shit to figure out.”
It was a tough loss for Carolina that not only threatens their ability to secure a Wild Card spot in the playoffs, but it also threatens the security of a lot of players and coaches moving forward--and Ron Rivera is certainly one of them. There’s trouble in Carolina and frustration is mounting, leaving fans hoping that the team can stick together to find some late-season momentum but also realistically expecting distinct moves by this coaching staff to save face in what looks to be the collapse of initially looked to be a good season. Ask Bene Benwikere’, sometimes, there just has to be a patsy sometimes.
By Tony Dunn
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