CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Rick Bonnell/The Charlotte Observer) - This was kind of game that leads to regime change; the Carolina Panthers at home against a bad team, desperate to maintain slim playoff hopes, and holding a 14-0 lead.
And then, meltdown to Washington at Bank of America Stadium.
Grading the carnage in Carolina’s 29-21 defeat:
D: It started out well, with quarterback Kyle Allen completing his first six passes, including two for touchdowns. But then came three sacks and a terrible-judgment interception the rest of the first half. Allen was fortunate not to be picked off a second time late in the third quarter when a Washington defensive back got both hands on a pass with little zip. With the Panthers strangely limiting their rushing attempts, Washington had two sacks in one Carolina possession early in the fourth quarter.
D: Under-utilized is not a term you normally associate with running back Christian McCaffrey, but it’s as if offensive coordinator Norv Turner forgot about him most of the second quarter. Absolutely, the Panthers have the offensive weapons to be more diverse, but how did an MVP-candidate tailback all but vanish? The Panthers gained just 39 rushing yards in the first half against a terrible run defense.
D: Washington rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins didn’t need to take many chances because the running game was so effective. But Haskins had the put-away play, finding a wide-open Kelvin Harmon to convert a third down in the fourth quarter. The Panthers’ back seven completely lost track of Harmon, which ultimately led to a touchdown and a two-score deficit.
F: Washington’s Derrius Guice had a 60-yard gain in the first half that was the latest of many examples how bad the Panthers’ rush defense is. There was no trickery, just a power run up the middle, and had Eric Reid not made a saving tackle, Guice might have gone all the way to the end zone. Then, Adrian Peterson gained 25 yards on a single play between the tackles after a Panthers punt started possession on the 1-yard line. Washington had 153 yards on the ground in the first three quarters, and it kept getting worse.
B-plus: Jermaine Carter’s recovery of the onside kick gave the Panthers a chance late. Kyle Love’s block of a Washington field-goal attempt at the end of the first half was impressive, but DeAndrew White interfering with Washington’s Trey Quinn’s ability to catch a kick is just the sort of undisciplined decision that has been costly all season on special teams.