With one minute and seven seconds left in the game Carolina quarterback Cam Newton took a shotgun pass with a clean pocket, surveying sideline to sideline. The franchise quarterback then made one of his worst throws all season as he missed a wide-open Jarius Wright for a go-ahead two-point conversion in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions. The off-balance pass ended up costing Carolina the game, as they fell to the Detroit Lions, 20-19 in Week 11.
More importantly than the loss however, was the way they did it. Carolina knew they had to win this game in order to keep within striking distance of the New Orleans Saints, who are in first place in the NFC South sitting at 9-1.
After a relatively mediocre first half the Panthers finally got some momentum going late in the third quarter which then translated into the fourth. Knowing that, there’s no reason head coach Ron Rivera should have called for a two-point conversion call with everything that was at stake for the Panthers.
Yes I know Graham Gano had missed an easy field goal and an extra-point earlier in the game, but that shouldn’t have mattered. Before this game, Gano was one of the most accurate kickers in the league. Up to this point he had made 28-straight field goals, which tied for the longest active streak in the NFL. Not to mention, before the Lions game Gano had yet to miss an extra-point all of this season.
It’s understandable to go for the win on the road don’t get me wrong, but this was not the time nor the place. Regardless if whether or not Newton could have executed the two-point conversion, the Panthers would have only been up one with Detroit getting the ball back then with 1:07 left and all three timeouts. That’s way too much time for Lions quarterback Mathew Stafford to lead a comeback and possibly win, especially when Carolina’s defense has struggled of late.
Nonetheless, the Panthers should have taken the extra-point plain and simple. Rivera should have played it safe for once and trusted his team since they had all the momentum. Instead, he gambled and it didn’t pay off which now caused the Panthers to drop their second game in two weeks. The poor showings against Pittsburgh and Detroit in back-to-back weeks have now caused Carolina to fall to 6-4 on the season, including an abysmal 1-4 on the road.