Can Carolina continue its winning ways on the road?


CHARLOTTE – No one in Bank of America Stadium appreciates a "Victory Monday" more than Mr. John Coleman, the security officer and team ambassador who welcomes all who enter the main lobby.

When visitors enter the stadium, Coleman greets them warmly. But when visiting teams enter the stadium, it's not about exchanging pleasantries. It's about sending them away with a loss.

"Something that Mr. John Coleman reminds us every time we see him -- take care of home at all costs," defensive coordinator Eric Washington said. "Great advice."

Since November 2017, the Panthers have had no problem defending Bank of America Stadium as if it were Charlotte's own Fort Knox. Just as they had in their previous nine home games, the Panthers sent fans across the Carolinas home happy with a victory Sunday, topping Tampa Bay 42-28.

The win not only kept Carolina (6-2) close to the Saints (7-1) in the NFC South, but it also extended the home winning streak to 10, matching the second-longest such streak in franchise history (1995-96) and adding another feather in a cap presumably owned by quarterback Cam Newton. The Panthers' longest streak came when they won 14 consecutive home games (regular season and playoffs) from late in the 2014 regular season through the 2016 home opener.

"That's one of the things we focus in on. Always protecting our home and defending our dirt," said linebacker Thomas Davis. "To be able to go out and actually do it, I think that really speaks volumes for how much of an emphasis we put on it as a football team, and we've just got to continue to keep doing that."

The Panthers have won close at home (against the Giants in Week 5); they've won big (against the Bucs and Ravens the last two weeks); and they've put wins together somewhere in the middle (against the Cowboys in Week 1 and the Bengals in Week 3). But the common denominator has been a plus-one in the win column.

Since 2013 - Carolina's first winning season under head coach Ron Rivera - the Panthers have posted the NFL's second-best home record (34-11) behind only the Patriots (39-6). Their plus-309 point differential at home in that span slots fifth best in the league.

It's great to thrive on your own turf, but can the Panthers bottle that mojo and bring it with them on the road?

Four of Carolina's next five games are away from home, starting with a Thursday night matchup this week at Pittsburgh.

After the Steelers in Week 10, the Panthers will travel to Detroit to face the Lions in Week 11 before taking on the Seahawks at home. Road trips to Tampa Bay and Cleveland follow.

"We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we do know it's coming," Rivera said. "The biggest thing, obviously, is trying to off to a good start on these road trips that are coming up."

The Panthers would be 0-3 in road games if not for that historic fourth-quarter rally at Philadelphia – the dramatic victory that ignited Carolina's current three-game win streak.

In road losses to the Falcons and Redskins, Carolina was outscored by a combined 34-16 in the first half before clawing back. In both cases, the late rally fell short, and while it may be encouraging that they were able to bounce back, no team should rely on second-half stampedes to earn wins.

Some perspective beyond the first half of the 2018 season is worth considering: Since 2013, the Panthers are one of 11 NFL teams with a winning record on the road at 54.7 percent.