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Strickly Panthers: Losing perspective

Posted Oct 11, 2011

Some will tell you that in the National Football League, a loss is a loss.

Others will tell you that all losses are not created equal.

Following Sunday’s 30-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints, a game that the Panthers led in the final minute, linebacker Jason Williams commented that he’d rather lose by 30 points than by three.

Tuesday morning, most of our Facebook friends respectfully begged to differ.

About 90 minutes after posing the question at www.facebook.com/CarolinaPanthers, we had received 1,000 responses to the poll question.

How many would rather lose by 30? 190.

How many would rather lose by three? 810.

The way you feel about the question probably has a lot to do with who you are and when you are asked the question.

Put yourself in Williams’ shoes. Mere moments after the game, before you’ve even had a chance to change out of your uniform, the sting of such a close loss is still fresh. Plus, the pain probably is going to last longer than it would following a blowout, with Williams and his teammates left to play the “what-if” game until they’re finally able to shake it from their system.

“As a player, I still remember the sick feeling I had after losing our last high school playoff game by a field goal, even though I was riding the pine,” Kwame K McRae wrote on Facebook. “But as a fan it feels better seeing our team lose close ones vs. blowouts. It gives me a feeling that with a few changes they can beat anyone.”

That’s not to say that fans don’t take close losses very hard in the moment that they’re playing out. There were plenty of long faces around the Bank of America Stadium when the Saints scored with 50 seconds left. My 6-year-old son cried.

“Losing by three is so disheartening,” Allison Countryman Linn wrote on Facebook. “At least if you lost by thirty you don’t have your hopes up, you aren’t preparing your victory speech. This loss made me so sad. My Panthers deserve some wins!”

It does seem, however, that given enough time to digest exactly what transpired, most fans (and players for that matter) will take a close loss over a one-sided one.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but the passage of time can bring perspective.

“Losing by 30 is embarrassing! It shows lack of preparation, skill and drive,” Rob Morrison wrote on Facebook. “Losing by 3 to a Super Bowl contender shows that we’re just a young team bringing it all together!”

Or, as put a little more bluntly by Facebook follower Lionel DaToonman Richardson: “If you lose by 30 that means your team is complete trash and didn’t deserve to be on the field.”

Yes, the Panthers are 1-4, but they’ve put a serious scare in the Saints and the Green Bay Packers – the last two Super Bowl champions – at home. On the road, they’ve done the same to the Chicago Bears – who played for the NFC Championship last season – and to the Arizona Cardinals in the first game for quarterback Cam Newton and head coach Ron Rivera.

There four losses have been by a total of 22 points.

Last season, when the Panthers started 0-5, they only had even a semblance of a shot of winning in the closing minutes in a Week 4 game at New Orleans. The other four losses were all by 13 or more points.

“Take a look at this season versus last season,” Benjamin Nelson wrote on Facebook. “It’s obvious which season you should want to be a part of whether it’s on the team or as a fan. The game is more enjoyable when it’s competitive.”

In the Facebook poll, fans were given two choices to consider: a three-point loss or a 30-point loss.

Sean Beck, however, opted to present a pretty compelling alternative.

“I’d rather win by 30 points,” he wrote.