CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Carolina Panthers discovered yet another new way to lose Sunday.
Looking at first certain to win in the first quarter, then likely to have a chance to tie the game with a first-and-goal from the 1 in the last minute of the game, the Panthers ended up losing, 29-21, to Washington.
Washington entered the game with a 2-9 record, an interim head coach and a rookie quarterback. Washington exited Charlotte with a 29-21 win, coming back from an early 14-0 deficit by running the ball down Carolina's throat and almost completely shutting down the Panthers' offense after the first quarter.
Desperately needing a win to keep its faint playoff hopes alive, Carolina dropped to 5-7 with its fifth loss in the last six games and its fourth in a row.
The Panthers mounted a ferocious late rally, scoring once in the final two minutes and then recovering an onside kick. But the final drive failed when Carolina's four plays inside the 5 in the final minutes resulted in two Christian McCaffrey runs for lost yardage, a Kyle Allen incompletion and then a Washington sack.
The errors came from everywhere after the first quarter until the final two minutes. Panthers fans watched in disbelief while their defense got steamrolled against the run, allowing 248 rushing yards and dropping to 2-4 at Bank of America Stadium this season.
- The game was marred by the departure of tight end Greg Olsen, the 13-year veteran who entered the concussion protocol after sustaining a helmet-to-helmet hit in the third quarter from Washington linebacker Ryan Anderson. Olsen appeared to be knocked out immediately on the play, as he fumbled the ball and lay on his back after being concussed on the hit.
Anderson was called for a 15-yard penalty and disqualified from the game. Olsen got up and walked off the field under his own power before jogging to the locker room.
- The Panthers' offensive line had all sorts of problems, as Allen was sacked over and over. Allen also threw a bad interception at his own 10-yard line which led to a Washington touchdown. Allen completed his first eight passes of the day, throwing two touchdowns during that stretch, but then could barely get anything going the rest of the day. He did run for a 17-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter for his third touchdown of the day.
- The loss broke an 11-game Carolina streak in which the halftime score had mimicked the final score. Carolina had been 5-0 when leading at halftime and 0-6 when trailing. However, Carolina led this game at halftime, 14-12.
- Before the Panthers were ever born, Charlotte was Washington territory. The Washington games were televised almost every Sunday afternoon, which meant a couple of generations of Carolinians grew up as Washington fans. So it wasn't surprising that, even entering the game at 2-9, there was a lot of burgundy in the stands.
? Joe Gibbs, who won three Super Bowls as Washington's coach and just won his fifth NASCAR championship at the sport's highest Cup level, came to Sunday's game. Gibbs was originally offered the Panthers' head-coaching job for the team's inaugural season in 1995 but turned it down and Dom Capers eventually got the job.
? There were plenty of things you could complain about on the field Sunday, but the weather wasn't one of them. While there were several snowy or rainy stadiums throughout the NFL Sunday, the sun came out for the game after a rainy morning and it stayed sunny and in the 60s all afternoon in the Queen City.
? After missing three times against New Orleans last week, Panthers placekicker Joey Slye had a much quieter day vs. Washington. Slye made his three extra points and didn't get the opportunity to try any field goals.
? The wind was gusting at up to 20 mph on the field, which particularly affected the punting. Washington's Tress Way boomed a 79-yarder in the third quarter.
? The prettiest play of the game from Carolina's standpoint came on punter Michael Palardy's onside kick, which completely fooled Washington and was recovered by linebacker Jermaine Carter.
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