Despite tough loss Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers find hope in second half rally to compete
In his regular Monday afternoon press conference, Coach Matt Rhule talked about being disappointed but not discouraged after watching tape of the NFL week one loss to the Cleveland Browns. He felt the Panthers showed progress in some critical areas but was definitely concerned about both the offense and defense getting out of the gate slowly.
Fundamentally, Carolina was not lined up properly on what turned into positive plays for Cleveland, and Rhule said they would fix that first thing this week. The Browns mounted a potent rushing attack that tallied 217 yards on 39 carries in contrast with the Panthers 54 yard effort.
It showed when the time of possession for both team showed a difference of more than 15 minutes as Cleveland dominated that category 38:26 compared to Carolinas' 21:34. It was also the biggest indicator of what caused the Panthers' defense to struggle stopping Browns running backs Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb who helped power the team's 5.6 yards per touch average on Sunday.
Despite the unbalanced numbers Baker Mayfield and company stayed focused down the stretch and rallied for the lead in the fourth quarter. The rally showed the Panthers quick strike ability including a Baker Mayfield 75 yard connection over the middle to Robby Anderson that cut Cleveland's lead to just two. That Panthers momentum, however, was dashed after a roughing the passer penalty on defensive end Brian Burns helped set up a Cade York field goal - his fourth field goal of the game. York's last attempt, with eight seconds to go in the game was made from 58 yards. The kick flew through the uprights and into the back of the safety net with plenty of momentum to go further - only 6 yards shorter than the NFL's record of 64 yards.
It was a big first win of the season for the Browns and equally heartbreaking for the Panthers. Coach Rhule felt his squad never gave up through the final whistle.
Quick corrections will need to be made for week two. The Panthers will travel to Metlife stadium later this week for their week two matchup with the New York Giants and Star Running Back Saquon Barkley who is coming off an outstanding performance against the Tennessee Titans. Barkley's league leading 164 yards rushing on 18 carries was enough to lift the Giants to a 20-21 week one win.