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Rapid Reactions: Panthers win ugly


What It Means

You know the scene in "Home Alone" when Kevin looks at the picture of Buzz's girlfriend?


That'd be an appropriate reaction for anyone who watched Sunday's home opener.

It was a win for the Panthers, but it sure was ugly. Despite dominating the Bills in every offensive category, Carolina managed just three field goals. It was enough, though, for a 2-0 start.

It's the seventh time the Panthers have won each of their first two games to start a season. In the previous six seasons they began 2-0, they made the playoffs every year except 2002.  

Their soft opening schedule continues next week against the Saints, who will be 0-2 after their Week 2 date with New England. But as the Panthers proved Sunday, nothing's a gimme just yet.  

Health Watch

—Tight end Greg Olsen limped to the locker room early in the second quarter with what was announced as a right foot injury. He was listed as probable to return but when he appeared again in the third quarter, he was in a walking boot and on crutches. Considering Olsen's ability to play through pain, he likely suffered something that will keep him out a while.

—Center Ryan Kalil woke up Sunday morning with a sore neck and aggravated it in pregame warmups. That meant Tyler Larsen made his sixth career start. 

—Quarterback Cam Newton limped off with what appeared to be a left ankle injury late in the third quarter. He spent the Bills' ensuing drive under a medical tent but returned to lead the Panthers on a 14-play drive that ended with a field goal. 

—Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was slow to get up after taking a shot from safety Jordan Poyer while attempting to make a touchdown catch on the Panthers' opening drive. It appeared trainers were looking at Benjamin's left arm/shoulder, but he only missed a couple of plays.  

Top Play

—There weren't many non-defensive highlights for the Panthers. You have to wonder if the offense would've clicked better if safety Jordan Poyer didn't break up this pass to Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone on the Panthers' opening drive:


Extra Points

—Head coach Ron Rivera laments missed opportunities. That's what the entire first half was. The Panthers led 6-0 at the break despite dominating the box score: 

First Half Stats
First Downs 12 1
Total Yards 193 39
Off Plays 39 16
Time of Poss. 23:07 6:53

—See the Panthers' total yards of 193 in that chart? They finished with 255. I wasn't a math major, but that means they totaled just 62 yards in the second half. Woof. 

—Kalil is responsible for pointing out blitzers, so his absence could help explain why Newton was under duress for most of the game. He was sacked six times which equaled the fifth-most of his career. 

—After the 49ers went 1-for-4 on fourth down, the Bills went 0-for-2. But the second one, a misfire from quarterback Tyrod Taylor to wideout Zay Jones, could've turned into a crusher for the Panthers. 

—A win's a win, right? Right ....... ?

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