The next era of the Carolina Panthers officially launched their 2020 campaign as they hosted the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. The Panthers worked to erase a double-digit second half deficit but fell 34-30 to the Raiders on Sunday.
With a new head coach, new staff and a new quarterback to lead them, the Panthers began the day with a unique stance during the National Anthem. While many teams have been shown locking arms to show unity, the Panthers, led by Teddy Bridgewater who choose to kneel during the National Anthem along with several other notable teammates, had various players display their support in various ways. Some players stood with raised fists, others like Christian McCaffrey stood with hand over heart.
INACTIVE for CAROLINA PANTHERS
6 QB PJ Walker
23 CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver
55 DE Shareef Miller
65 G Dennis Daley
86 TE Colin Thompson
The first series for Bridgewater was a success as far as a balanced approach is considered. He was able to utilize more than the customary "Give it to McCaffrey" approach that dominated last season. Bridgewater connected with Robby Anderson for an 11-yard completion and a first down - his first official pass as a Carolina Panther.
That set up 47-yard field goal by Joey Sly to put the Panthers up 3-0 early in the first quarter.
It wouldn't be a real Panthers' game with Christian McCaffrey bursting into the end zone. After a 10-play 63-yard drive, McCaffrey scored on a no huddle play up the middle to give Carolina a 9-7 advantage late in the first quarter.
The Panthers' defense, however, was a different set of issues for new Head Coach Matt Rhule and company. Cornerback Donte Jackson went down with an ankle injury on a goal line play and left the game. He was ruled questionable for the second half but did not return for the first half. Despite the loss that allowed the Raiders' Derek Carr to go 13/18 for 141 yards and contribute to 228 yards in the first half in contrast to the Panthers' 181 yards, Rookies Derrick Brown, Jeremy Chinn stepped up to make big plays. And OLB Shaq Thompson made helped bolster a goal line stance for Carolina.
The brightest side for Carolina was the lack of penalties in the first half as well as six different Carolina players landing in the receptions category. Carolina headed into the half down by only two.
AT THE HALF
The porous Carolina defense lost ground quickly in the second half having to rely on rookie Troy Pride more in Jackson's absence. The Raiders were able to open up a double-digit lead after Josh Jacobs up the middle for 7 yards
Thanks to McCaffrey, who garnered 18 carries for 70 yards and 2 TD, the Panthers were able to get within five points of the Raiders and erase a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. DJ Moore added 4 receptions for 54 yards to lead Carolina. But the biggest play of the day for the Panthers was a 75-yard completion from Bridgewater to Robby Anderson followed by the successful 2-point conversion to give Carolina a 30-27 advantage with 8:29 remaining.
WHAT WAS HE THINKING
On a run-play to pick up a critical first-down, Joe Brady opted to go with RB Alex Armah instead of Christian McCaffrey. The move would be a costly one as the Panthers came up short and ended any realistic chance at edging out the raiders who were back on top 34-30.
GAME STATS OAK CAR
Total Net Yards 364 345
Touchdowns 4 3
Rushing (td) 3 2
Passing (td) 1 1
Interceptions (td) 0 0
The Carolina Panthers head to Tampa Bay to take on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers next week.
NEXT GAME INFO
Date: Sept. 20
Time: 1:00 PM EDT
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL