Yes, the Panthers lost. But that was quarterback Kyle Allen’s best performance yet

Yes, the Panthers lost. But that was quarterback Kyle Allen’s best performance yet
(Source: Tim Ireland)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Scott Fowler//The Charlotte Observer) - I know Kyle Allen played for the losing team Sunday.

I know the Carolina Panthers quarterback turned the ball over twice.

But I also know that Allen proved something big to everyone in the Panthers’ 24-16 defeat at Green Bay.

This was actually Allen’s best game, given the degree of difficulty of the opponent. And the venue. And the fact that some cute snow flurries at Lambeau Field in the first quarter turned into an actual snowstorm in the fourth.

Allen, now 5-2 as a Panthers starter this season, would disagree with this thesis. The Panthers lost, and he was disconsolate afterward. He didn’t like what he did.

“Not good enough,” Allen said, describing his performance as Carolina dropped to 5-4. “For me to turn the ball over twice and put us in a bad position, at the end of the day, that’s the main reason why we lost.”

But Allen also threw for a career-best 307 yards. He avoided countless sacks. He led drives of 82 and 88 yards at the end of the game, into the teeth of a Green Bay team that was up 24-10 to begin the fourth quarter and knew that Allen had to beat them through the air.

Unfortunately, that final drive needed to go 89 yards, not 88, as Christian McCaffrey was stopped inches short of the goal line on the game’s final play — an inside handoff from the Packers’ 2. If Carolina had scored, the Panthers would have gotten to try a two-point conversion with no time remaining on to send the game into a snowy overtime.

Still, what Allen did Sunday cemented his status on a team he will quarterback for the rest of 2019 at least — and maybe well beyond that — given that Cam Newton is now on injured reserve due to a foot injury.

Listen to tight end Greg Olsen, who is in his 13th NFL season and played a part in nearly all of Newton’s biggest games as Carolina’s quarterback.

Said Olsen afterward: “I told Kyle, that performance there at the end — I’ve played with a lot of good quarterbacks. And that’s as good a performance, considering the circumstances, I’ve ever played with.

“I mean, what he did with that (Green Bay defensive) front pinning their ears back and knowing we had to throw the ball? We all saw the conditions. The weather. Down 14 in the fourth quarter. To lead us down the field like that was pretty incredible. What he did tonight overall — and in that fourth quarter — was as impressive a quarterback display as I’ve ever seen.”

That covers a lot of ground, as Olsen has played in 182 NFL games.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn’t praise Allen quite that highly, calling the quarterback’s afternoon “an interesting day.”

Said Rivera: “He did some really good things … Unfortunately, he had the two turnovers.”

The two turnovers were brutal. With Carolina ahead 10-7, Allen fumbled away a snap. It was his seventh fumble (five were lost) in seven games this season as the Panthers’ starter — fumbles continue to be his primary bugaboo.

Then, in the third quarter, Allen threw the first red-zone interception of his brief career on second-and-10 from the Packers’ 11, firing a ball into the end zone that could have been intercepted by two different players.

“I tried to fit it into a window that I didn’t need to on second down,” Allen said. “It’s just something I got to learn. It’s just second down. ... It’s on me.”

This was a theme of Allen’s postgame press conference, as he took the blame for basically everything that went wrong. He scoffed at remarkable plays that he had made like a successful fourth-and-10 throw on Carolina’s final drive, or several other deep sideline throws that he somehow got to D.J. Moore (120 receiving yards) and Olsen (98).

“Doesn’t matter,” Allen said.

Allen also said that the snowy conditions “were fine.”

“I mean it was snowing,” Allen said. “But it wasn’t cold, and it wasn’t wet. It was fine. It was fun playing in the snow.”

The turnovers were what really gnawed at Allen. Although Rivera noted that this season is pretty much like Allen’s “rookie year,” Allen isn’t buying that.

“I know I’m a young guy,” said Allen, who is 23. “But I’m the quarterback of this team. I can’t be doing that. This is a very talented team. And when we play clean football, we can win a lot of games. And it doesn’t matter what age I am or how many starts I have. I have to play clean football or else it’s not fair to this team.”

One throw Allen would love to have back: The next-to-last play of the game, from the Green Bay 2, when McCaffrey was slightly open in the flat but Allen threw the ball too low.

“I missed it,” Allen said. “That’s another opportunity. I put it on him, he scores and we go for two. So, it’s on me.”

Yes, he missed that one. And he missed a few others, too.

But what Allen did Sunday still bodes well for the future. He showed us something Sunday. He’s getting better before our eyes. And soon, he’s going to win a game just like that one.