Skip to main content

Rapid Reactions: Offense surges, defense falters against Packers

RapidReactions_Thumbnail (14)

CHARLOTTE — This was not the week we write about a valiant defensive effort wasted by an offense that couldn't move the ball.

This was the week a defense that had held strong most of the year began to spring leaks, wasting the effort of the season by the offense.

The Packers beat the Panthers 33-30 on Christmas Eve, dropping the Panthers to 2-13 on the season with two to play.

It was an anomaly in many ways, as the Packers gained more yards in the first half (251) than the Panthers had in either of the last two games (204 at New Orleans and 207 last week against the Falcons).

The Packers did it in a very spare way, running effectively 117 yards in the first half and 162 for the game. The Panthers hadn't allowed 100 rushing yards in the last two either and held the Falcons to 52 a week ago.

That was part of an outburst against a defense that had ranked second in the league in yards allowed since Week 9 (257.3 per game).

It was the fourth-most points they allowed in a game this season, trailing the 42 they allowed in back-to-back weeks against the Lions and Dolphins, the 37 allowed in Week 3 at Seattle, and tied with the the 33 Dallas scored in Week 11.

That spoiled a day when the offense finally found its footing, but those scales aren't balanced this year.

— Again, the problem wasn't the offense.

The 30 points they scored were their most of the season.

They scored 27 at Seattle in Week 3, and 24 while getting blown out in Detroit.

Bryce Young was and threw for a season-high 311 yards and two touchdowns to DJ Chark Jr.

He also ran for a two-point conversion, but that was wiped out by an Ikem Ekwonu holding call, and was followed by a missed extra point by Eddy Piñeiro.

Young put them in position to kick a field goal, but were a second away from a spike to kick a potential tying field goal.

It was the game they've been looking for out of him.

— The offense really wasn't bad and showed a few wrinkles in the first half.

Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette scored a 20-yard touchdown run in the first half, which was unusual on a few counts.

For one, it was a first-half touchdown, which they hadn't scored in eight weeks.

But it was another flicker from the punt returner and spare receiver. He finished with 51 combined yards.

He's a restricted free agent at the end of the season and has shown enough that someone will likely want to continue to develop him.

Amare Barno

— The Panthers came into the game reasonably healthy, but that didn't last long.

Gunner and backup outside linebacker Amaré Barno left with a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return.

The cart came out for Barno immediately after he went down awkwardly while covering the punt.

View all the action from the Panthers' game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 16.

Related Content