Game Day: Packers at the Panthers (UPDATE: PANTHERS LOSE 30-23)

Posted by: ST on September 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Panthers logoCautious optimism is in the air today here in Charlotte as Carolina Panthers fans, excited off of last week’s impressive-even-in-a-loss showing by rookie QB Cam Newton, in their first regular season home game of the NFL 2011-2012 season, take on defending Super Bowl champs Green Bay on a Sunday afternoon that so far feels more like a mid-October day than a late summer day. The Packers, of course, are coming off an impressive victory against the New Orleans Saints from Thursday before last.

Charlotte Observer sports columnist Scott Fowler writes today that the combined energy of Newton alongside Panthers WR Steve Smith is giving both the team and Panthers fans “something to build on”:

Carolina fans walking into the stadium toward the end of last season appeared resigned, as if they were about to stand in line at the DMV. The ones entering today will have a bounce in their step.

Newton and Smith made sure of that last week, when Newton threw for a startling 422 yards against Arizona – the most ever by a rookie quarterback in his first game. Smith caught eight of those passes for 178 yards and scored twice, as the old and new merged seamlessly in the Panthers’ first game under new head coach Ron Rivera.

There was the pesky fact that Carolina lost the game, 28-21. But Panthers fans are used to losing. The team went 2-14 last season, which allowed it to draft Newton with the No.1 overall pick in April. What Panthers fans aren’t used to is an offense that scores more than 10 points a game, which is why last week felt so refreshing.

“It’s only one game,” Smith said, “so you can’t throw a parade. But it’s something to build on.”

[...]

Smith has made a conscious effort this season to enjoy football more and worry less. He knows there aren’t many 32-year-olds still working as the No. 1 wide receiver for any NFL team. He also knows Newton could be his salvation, a quarterback good enough to extend his career.

Newton, meanwhile, knows having Smith along for this ride will make an up-and-down rookie year less bumpy. Newton may not locate him nearly as often today – the Packers will undoubtedly double-team Smith more than Arizona did – but he’s always glancing toward No. 89.

And with Newton and Smith looking so often for each other, things at Bank of America Stadium are looking up again. Finally.

I’m not making any bold predictions. In fact, in the office pool I’ve picked GB to win today – but my feelings wouldn’t be hurt at all if the Panthers won, or if at the very least they put on an impressive showing again. Any fan of a long-struggling sports team can identify with that feeling.

On a slighly nostalgic note, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers was the Carolina Panthers’ first head coach. I liked him a lot. And Cam Newton makes me feel old. He was born the same year I graduated from high school. ;)

Game time is 1 PM ET and it will be broadcast on Fox.

What games will you be watching today?

UPDATE – 6:09 PM: Newton had another monster game today but throwing 3 interceptions (plus a stupid turnover by Steve Smith) equated to bad news for the Cats as the Packers capitalized and won 30-23.

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4 Responses to “Game Day: Packers at the Panthers (UPDATE: PANTHERS LOSE 30-23)”

Comments

  1. John says:

    I’m looking forward to my Redskins meeting your Panthers later this year. I may even drive down to see it.

  2. Phineas says:

    According to NFL.com, the score is 20-13 Packers in the 3rd. Plenty of time to come back, and actually pretty good for a team that’s been down for a while facing the World Champs.

    Sadly, we’re stuck with the Raiders at Buffalo. For some reason, the NFL still treats LA as if we were part of the Raiders’ home market. Bah.

    My beloved 49ers host Dallas today. Even though we beat Seattle last week, we’re probably overmatched today. Unless, of course, the defense has a big day pass rushing: Romo’s prone to stupid mistakes when pressured. I also hope to see Harbaugh open he offense more than he did against Seattle, though I can understand why he played that one conservatively.

    And thank Gawd football is back! :)

  3. Chris in NC says:

    I have no clue what I watched. I turned on to see the Lions play Kansas City. But the team that was supposed to be the Lions was up 20-3 and pounding the ever loving crud out of KC eventually beating them 48-3. No way that’s the Lions. No… Freaking… Way… I don’t care what the T.V. and the uniforms/helmets said. Not the Lions. Lions teams don’t go 2-0 to start a season…

  4. Carlos says:

    1) Didn’t see the game, but the stats show Newton could eventually be a good QB if he can learn to win in the pros.

    2) Kinda makes ya pine fer the Rams, doesn’t it, Phineas? Except the Rams fell victim to what every team that plays out of LA falls victims to, specifically, they think they’re stars just by existing.

    3) Believe it or not, Chris, there was a time many lifetimes ago when the Lions were actually feared by most teams, esp. the Packers and Da Bears. My, how times change everything back to the way it was, eventually.