On a day where combined yards (151) for penalties (22) outscored the game score there is no doubting that the Carolina Panthers are a team that is still finding its way through a muddled landscape.
Looking back in the past, 2003 brings up some fond memories of the "Cardiac Cats," but today I wanted to call them the CPR Cats because while they seemed to need CPR in the beginning to bring them to life--I too needed CPR as I couldn't believe how poorly Carolina (Chicago too) was playing in the first half of regulation!
Penalties aside, the first quarter was very quiet after the Bears Brandon Lloyd blocked Jason Baker's punt for a 9 yard touchdown. After the touchdown Penn State alum Robbie Gould lined up for the extra point attempt which was good, giving the Bears a 7 to 0 lead early in the first quarter.
The second quarter was very bland aside from being riddled with penalties from both teams, the only points scored was a middle of the quarter Robbie Gould FG comfortably putting the Bears up 10 to 0, but the Panthers meekly answered back with a 37 yard John Kasay field goal with twelve seconds left in the game.
After a very nerve-wracking halftime, the third quarter began, and it seemed as though both teams were getting settled into the game; there were fewer penalties, and everyone seemed more focused in on the job at hand. The Bears knew they had to maintain their lead, but the Panthers knew they didn't want to suffer another season-opening home loss two years in a row--especially after coming off a huge road win over the San Diego Chargers they wanted to keep that momentum rolling. The Bears scored 6 on a rushing touchdown from Jason Mckie boosting the score to 17 to 3 for the Bears after Robbie Gould's extra point. The Panthers answered back with two drives of their own; a John Kasay 3 point field goal, and later on a Jonathan Stewart four yard run for 6 points and the ensuing John Kasay extra point attempt was good.
The fourth quarter had very little action, aside from many impressive defensive stands, and some shoddy offensive plays on both sides of the ball. The last scoring drive of the game was from that of Jonathan Stewart for a one yard run into the endzone for 6; again, the ensuing Kasay field goal was good giving Carolina the lead with 3:52 left in the game. Chicago made two feeble attempts to put drives together, but the Panthers defense shut them down on both drives, and after three Delhomme kneeldowns, the game was over and the Cardiac Cats of '08 won with a record of 2-0.
I was very impressed with Jonathan Stewart's playmaking late in the game, and while I was a little distraught at TE Jeff King's dropped pass midway through the second half; he redeemed himself late in the game with a grab at the Bears 1 yard line where Stewart punched it in for the TD.
While I was very distraught over the amount of penalties the Panthers kept committing, it was slightly consoling that the Bears were making just as many--in fact more penalties and yards penalized. All in all it was a very exciting game, and I hope to see continued success of the Panthers in weeks to come!
Please check back every week for my post-game Panthers analysis, and every Saturday afternoon for my pregame picks!