Victory #2 so close yet so far away, Panthers lose on last second FG

No matter how many breaks they get the Panthers can not seem to put away games this year. Today was a perfect example of that. Carolina and rookie QB Jimmy Clausen had two chances within the two minute warning to win the game. The first try ended in an interception while the second try had Clausen do enough to get Carolina into field goal range only to have John Kasay hit it off the upright. I’m not going to lie when I say that if Kasay were to have made that kick then it wouldn’t be Carolina winning, it’s more of Cleveland losing. The Browns complete mismanagement of this game almost cost them but luckily for Cleveland, the Panthers just find ways to lose. This one being the most brutal. I’m not putting the entire blame on Kasay but a good chunk of the loss is going to fall on his shoulders.

I am not sure where to begin here but I remember writing in my preview that stopping Peyton Hillis was going to be the only thing that gave us a shot in this game and guess what? He accumulated 194 total yards and scored 3 TD’s in the process, bulldozing Charles Godfrey on one of them. We failed to get pressure on Jake Delhomme and he looked like his 2003 form for most of the first half with how he was catching our defense sleeping by constantly using the no huddle offense. Other people besides Charles Johnson and Everette Brown need to get in on the pass rush. Having only two guys getting pressure on the QB isn’t going to do you a lot of good. Derek Landri and Nick Hayden are too inconsistent to be starting every game and they proved that today. We have Delhomme to much time to make plays but thankfully, he reverted back to the form we’ve come to know in the 2nd half and it helped Carolina get back into the game.

I will say this, the defense did play well in the 2nd half in some key situations. We stopped Hillis on 3rd and 4th and short a couple of times to keep the score within reach, they forced three turnovers (shoutout goes to Jason Williams for forcing and recovering a fumble in his first game as a Panther) and did their best to keep things from getting worse. Captain Munnerlyn had a nice game fending off Mohammad Massaquoi (Gamble was benched for some reason…) and he returned an INT back for a touchdown. However, there were still too many mistakes from the defense outside of letting Hillis crush them.

I didn’t mention Brian Robiske in my preview because he hasn’t been used by the Browns at all this year due to under performing. He had 7 catches today. One guess at who was covering him. Hint: He’s a former Bruin and is a free agent at the end of the season. There were also countless stupid penalties and one of them I consider “the turning point of the game.” I’m talking about Sherrod Martin’s personal foul which came after a stop on 3rd and goal. Browns pounded it in on the next play. It’s a shame that had to happen because Martin had a pretty solid game. Then there was Eric Norwood’s offsides on 4th and 3 which wasn’t killer but still very dumb and unnecessary.

Onto the offense, I am going to start by saying I’m not ready to write off Jimmy Clausen yet. Yes, his interception was terrible but he did all he could on the next drive to get the Panthers in field goal range. However, I will say he isn’t exactly looking like a future franchise QB right now. He hasn’t been awful the last couple of weeks, just decent at best and that won’t cut it if he’s going to be the team’s QB for years to come. I know the offensive line is playing horrible pass protection and he only had maybe 2 seconds to get rid of the ball (even when the Browns weren’t blitzing) but I want to see him put more points on the board. I want to see more passes like the one he made to Brandon LaFell at the end of the game. I don’t know if I’m making any sense or what but he’s got 5 weeks left to prove himself to the organization and he’s making progress but not enough. He’s still only thrown 1 TD compared to 5 INT’s….that’s gotta change.

It was the Mike Goodson show on offense has he had yet another impressive week on the ground and even more in the passing game. Clausen seemed to rely on Goodson as his bailout option and he made the most of it catching 8 passes for 81 yards along with gaining 55 yards on 14 carries and a TD on the opening drive and for once, no fumbles! It’s making the situation with DeAngelo Williams this off-season very interesting, for sure. Jonathan Stewart also had a long overdue good game. 12 carries for 98 yards…definitely more of the JStew we’re used to seeing.

It’s frustrating how the run blocking seems to finally have come around for this team but they still can’t pass block at all. I noticed Matt Roth in the backfield on almost every play and SS Abram Elam was able to get two sacks along with an INT today. Clausen relied on Goodson more than any receiver but I thought he tried to force it to Steve Smith a few times and it worked…twice. LaFell is looking more and more like the deep threat we were expecting to see when we drafted him, if he could get open more then that would be awesome. David Gettis wasn’t targeted once and spent most of the day returning kicks. Okay then. Dante Rosario was somewhat useful today with 3 catches but I NEVER want to see him run on a draw play again.

I’ll have more critiques/analysis in the upcoming week but for now, I’ll hand out game balls.

Mike Goodson – Another solid performance from him.

Captain Munnerlyn – He is no longer the whipping boy of the defense. He has been a decent nickel option and played well against Massaquoi today. Also added an INT and a TD to his resume.

John Baker – Just another day at the office for him. Never good when I’m handing out game balls to punters, lol.

It’s definitely a disappointing loss but I guess I’ll take it over being blown out or losing on back-to-back pick six’s like last week. The good news is we’re finally starting to see what exactly we should do in the off-season to address the numerous amount of things wrong with this team. It’s looking like finding a corner or a stud DT will be high on that list. Oh, and I guess I should say this; John Kasay….I am disappoint. Very disappoint.

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