The Carolina Panthers (1-6) have lost five games by six or fewer points this season and they had a chance to win each of those games until the end.
As Cam Newton might say, it's the same old tired script now, week in and week out.
However, for all of Newton's struggles this season, Ron Rivera and his staff are every bit as responsible as the players—if not more so—for the Panthers' inability to win the close ones.
In the end, it could cost Rivera and his staff their jobs at season's end if Carolina does not win its fair share of tight games in the second half of the season.
The Panthers' two most frustrating losses, a 30-28 setback to the Atlanta Falcons (7-0) and last week's 23-22 defeat to the Chicago Bears (6-1), came on last-second, game winning field goals and provided evidence that Carolina has the talent to hang with the best teams in the league.
However, indecisive coaching and poor decision making by Rivera and his offensive and defensive coordinators, Rob "Chud" Chudzinski and Sean McDermott, cost Carolina an opportunity to have—at worst—a 3-4 record through Week 8 of the 2012 NFL season.
For Rivera and his staff, the bad decisions and inability to make effective halftime adjustments seemingly have no end.
Perhaps the most telling comment from Coach Rivera all season was his statement after Sunday's loss at Chicago.
The Panthers' coach said his goal was to make Jay Cutler's offense beat the Panthers' defense systematically when he and McDermott decided to abandon their aggressive approach on the final drive and fall into a softer zone-coverage defense.
The aggressive approach had resulted in six first-half sacks and had limited the Bears' high-scoring offense to just two touchdowns on the day. Via the Charlotte Observer:
“We were trying to keep the ball in front of us. It’s one of those things where if you jump it and they double move you, now all of a sudden it’s a touchdown or the ball is in field goal range. We were trying to make them systematically beat us. They got in field-goal position, and you take your chances at that point.”
Well, that's exactly what Chicago did.
Here is a look at how the Panthers have fared in close games this season and who is primarily to blame for each loss.