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Mistakes and Chicago Bears defense humble Carolina Panthers 23-16
Costly errors leave Carolina in catch-up mode
 
Published Sunday, October 18, 2020 11:22 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | CAROLINA PANTHERS
Panthers receiver D.J. Moore stretches to catch a pass in Carolina's 23-16 loss to Chicago Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

The Panthers were out of sorts against Chicago, and it showed.

Costly Carolina mistakes and the Bears’ ferocious defense ended the Panthers’ win streak at three games after a 20-13 loss Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina, which fell to 3-3, struggled to mount consistent offense against Chicago, especially in the red zone, where they managed only one touchdown in three trips. The Panthers converted only 3-of-13 third-down opportunities compared to the Bears’ 7-of-14.

“They have a good defense and they executed their game plan well,” said Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who completed 16-of-29 passes for 216 yards and a pair of interceptions. “For us, we’ve just got to find ways to get back on track. We were knocked off course from the opening kickoff and it was like we never really got back on track, so we’re going to learn from today. Like I told some of the guys in the locker room, this game can humble you, so I think a game like today is good for us.”

Said left tackle Russell Okung: “In my tenure in the NFL, the red zone is all about focus, attention to detail, you are dealing with a short field. So, ultimately, that means that you cannot make mistakes. You have to be so much more crisp. The alignment needs to be on and you need to protect. All those things come together in the red zone. If not, there is much more of a magnifying glass when it comes to the errors or the shortcomings that any player can make.”

The Bears, who are tied with Green Bay atop the NFC North at 4-1, humbled Carolina with one of the NFL’s top defenses. Chicago held Carolina under 20 points – the fourth time the Bears have done it this season. They also forced three turnovers, including on the game’s opening possession they converted into a touchdown.

“They are a good team, so I always want to give them credit,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said. “They brought a lot of pressure that got us out of whack. Their pass rush, they brought some blitzes today, a lot credit to them. That being said, we can never control the opponent, we can control ourselves. We did not, in my opinion, play as well as we wanted to play.”

Carolina’s defense turned in another solid performance, but couldn’t overcome Chicago’s opportunistic, field-flipping defense. Bridgewater had an especially difficult time maneuvering against the Bears’ who harassed him in the pocket and forced him into poor decisions, which left the Panthers playing catch-up all day.

“I think offenses are all about cadence and rhythm,” said Okung, who was twice flagged for false start penalties. “When you come out you want to have some good positive plays, really get things moving down the field. But we started with getting hits on the quarterback, which in our room is completely unacceptable. Starting the game getting the quarterback sacked and hit, it can’t happen.”

The one thing the Panthers learned, cornerback Rasul Douglas found is the margin of error between winning and losing is small. A mistake at the wrong time – or in Carolina’s case multiple errors – can unravel the best game plan.

“Everyone in this league is good,” he said. “Clearly, not everyone makes it to the league and it’s always just something little that decides the game. That’s what’s so good about every given Sunday. You’ve got to play your best football every Sunday. They played better football than us this Sunday and they won.”

 

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