|Losing streak puts Carolina's season on the brink of irrelevance|
|Panthers falling farther in playoff chase|
|Published Thursday, November 29, 2018 5:05 am|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|At 6-5 and in the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Carolina Panthers are on the brink of playoff hunt irrelevance.|
The Carolina Panthers are inventing new ways to drop in the NFC standings.
Sunday’s 30-27 loss to Seattle was the latest offering of failure in a three-game losing streak, with blown scoring chances, busted coverages and another Graham Gano missed kick for good measure. Is the season over at 6-5? No, but the trend is troubling for a group that suddenly finds itself playing desperation football to stay relevant in the postseason hunt.
“It’s a series of one-game series,” head coach Ron Rivera said.
Seattle, to its credit, was looking for an opportunity to snooker Carolina, which happened when Gano missed a potential go-ahead field goal from 52 yards out with 102 seconds left. Russell Wilson carved the Panthers secondary with key late game completions, beating James Bradberry, Corn Elder and anyone familiar with giving up long passes in critical spots.
“You can’t miss plays over the top,” Rivera said. “If you’re in position to make a play, you’ve got to make a play.”
That’s what the Panthers haven’t done enough of during this skid, which has left them scratching their collective heads in frustration. There was plenty of blame to go around, whether it was a Cam Newton tossing an interception in the end zone, the front four failing to pressure Wilson or suddenly shaky special teams. Regardless, Carolina is on a must-win footing.
“We don’t have a choice,” tight end Greg Olsen said. “We have a lot of [stuff] to figure out before we worry about winning five games. I told you guys last week we have to worry about one game, and we haven’t won one game in three weeks. Forget about five, we’ve got to win one.”
Said Elder: “We’ve just got to keep going. Next game, come out and play and just leave this one in the past. Watch film, correct what we can correct and just keep it going.”
Quarterback Cam Newton, who usually has a way with words even when he’s uttering malaprops, was surgical in describing the process facing Carolina. In order to correct a problem, the first step is admitting one exists.
“We’ve just to look ourselves in the mirror, understand what we aren’t and fix it. That’s the truth be told. We lack a lot of things, but we’re great at a lot of other things, too, whether that’s offensively, at the quarterback position, whether that’s special teams or even defensively. We can’t fool ourselves. This is our third loss. At the end of the day, there’s no need to panic, but we need to seize the moment better than we are.”
The moments are fleeting and there are no easy fixes.
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