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Sports

Panthers: Better days are coming
Denver debacle all but closes door on season
 
Published Monday, November 12, 2012 11:37 am
by Cheris F. Hodges, for The Charlotte Post

 

The 2-7 Carolina Panthers have a message for their fans.

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PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (left) battles Denver Broncos receiver Eric Decker Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. Denver won 36-14 to drop Carolina to 2-7.


Hold on. 


While fans might have hope of seeing an improved team at some point, the Panthers’ season is a wrap. The Denver Broncos dismantled Carolina’s offense, sacking quarterback Cam Newton seven times and picking him off twice, including a return for a touchdown.


Though Carolina played one quarter of flawless offense and took a 7-0 lead early, special teams problems allowed Denver to return a punt for a touchdown and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning hit a wide-open Brandon Stokley for another score.


“You can’t give up points on special teams,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “You do that and you miss your opportunity to win football games. There are some things we will look at and see if we can get corrected.”


Rivera said coming off the Washington win to drop a game like this one at home is tough.


“This is only the second game we’ve lost like this, this year,” he said. “We play hard enough to give ourselves a chance down the stretch to win games and to have one of these is a very tough pill to swallow right now.”


Defensive tackle Frank Kearse said the Panthers are going to work to put things back on track and get better.


“We need to work better as a team and close these games out,” he said.


Tight end Greg Olsen called the loss frustrating.


“You got to play well and hope the chips fall where they may,” he said. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance.”


The Panthers also don’t have a chance at a postseason, despite high hopes at the beginning of training camp.


Newton said the offense has to get better and he needs to get the ball out faster to help move things along. He stopped short of complaining about the pounding he took Sunday because of the lack of protection.


“That’s the same offensive line that has done great things. It’s more frustrating to lose a football game than to have days like that,” he said. “So, I’m not thrashing them and I don’t expect nobody to thrash them because those guys are capable of doing thing.”


Rivera said the Panthers are going to keep fighting and expect to win every time they show up. Kearse echoed his coach’s sentiment, but when asked when improvements will become visible, he said, “As soon as possible.”


As for the postseason, it’s too late.

 

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