The Panthers were embarrassed in every single phase for the majority of this game.
They made devastating mistakes on offense, defense, and special teams, which is why this 5-8 Broncos team was able to dominate... until the fourth quarter.
Offensive struggles seemed to have plagued the Panthers despite some bright spots during the entire game. Teddy Bridgewater was unable to get much production going behind some lackluster offensive line play. D.J. Moore, Christian McCaffrey, and Dennis Daley were certainly missed today.
Carolina failed in the special teams department when Diontae Spencer returned a punt for an 83-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Luckily for the Panthers at the time, the Broncos missed the extra point which led to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Panthers' offense was unable to respond, but the defense made a statement when Jeremy Chinn drilled Drew Lock and caused a forced fumble, which was followed by a 54-yard return from Efe Obada. Mike Davis scored after the Panthers started the drive on Denver's 3 yard line. This gave the Panthers a brief 7-6 lead.
The Broncos' offense was just starting to open up, though.
They responded with a touchdown of their own with the assistance of a Brian Burns roughing the passer call and a Jermaine Carter Jr. personal foul penalty during the drive.
The beginning of second half didn't look that much better for either side of the ball. The Panthers' offense opened up with a three and out. The Broncos responded with a 37-yard touchdown to put the Broncos up 19-7 in the third quarter. The Panthers followed this with a field goal which brought the game closer, but the Broncos scored another touchdown to make it a 25-10 game.
Everything changed in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers finally responded in the fourth quarter when Teddy Bridgewater rushed for a seven-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to eight points. The defense made a crucial stop to give Carolina a chance to tie the game, and the Panthers settled for a field goal in the red zone to make it a 25-20 game.
Drew Lock responded with a 49-yard strike to K.J. Handler to make it 32-20, and the Panthers quickly scored to cut the deficit to five points. Joey Slye pinned the Broncos to their seven-yard line with a fantastic kick, and the defense was able to cause a huge three-and-out.
The score was 32-27, and once again, the game was on the line late in the fourth quarter.
Guess what happened? Teddy Bridgewater had the game in his hands and underperformed again. The Panthers failed to respond after an underwhelming final drive, and the Broncos won the game. Drew Lock finished the game with 280 yards and four touchdowns. The 4-9 Panthers will be facing a dangerous Green Bay team next week.
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