Panthers blow opportunity to get back into playoff chase

I don’t get the Carolina Panthers.

One week after playing inspired in a 28-19 win over division rival Atlanta, the Panthers laid a dud in a 24-17 loss to the Dolphins on Thursday night in Carolina.

After they beat the Falcons, some pundits started believing in the Panthers again. Hey, why not? They beat the Cardinals in Arizona in Week 8, hung with a powerhouse Saints team in New Orleans in Week 9, and beat a good Falcons team in Week 10.

But after their performance Thursday night, it’s hard to believe that John Fox’s team will play consistent enough throughout the rest of the season to make a postseason run. Jake Delhomme is too mistake-prone, the loss of Jordan Gross kills the offensive line (the Dolphins sacked Delhomme four times), and the defense can’t stop the run.

At best, this is a 7-9 Panthers team. They’ll play hard enough for Fox to stay somewhat alive in the Wild Card race, but they blew a huge opportunity this week to earn a victory at home and put pressure on the Falcons to win in New York (vs. the Giants) on Sunday.

On the other side, the Dolphins still have a pulse at 5-5. Granted, given that they play in a tough AFC they don’t have much of a pulse, but considering they’re still alive without Chad Pennington and Ronnie Brown is quite an accomplishment.

Ricky Williams really stepped up in the absence of Brown, rushing for 119 yards with two touchdowns on 22 carries. He also caught two passes for 19 yards and a touchdown, which proves he can be multi-dimensional.

My TSR cohort John Paulsen made a good point the other day in that Williams doesn’t have the same wear and tear on him as most 32-year olds, given that he was out of football for a couple years. He won’t have the opportunity to face a suspect Carolina front seven every week, but if he continues to run the way he did on Thursday night then he’ll give Miami a chance to win on most game days.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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