30 November, 2008


November 30, 2008

After downing my second celebratory beer, I’m calmed down enough to begin an unusual rant. First, a much-needed and impressive win by our Panthers today, on the road, on The Tundra, against a very good and desperate Packer offense. Go look at the rant I made after the schedule was put out in April.

I had predicted a 9-3 Panther record by this time.

Right on schedule. Despite my sucky record as a handicapper this year, at least my Panther prognostication is holding. The Cedar Street Seer continues to see the Panthers’ future in a clear manner. But, I do digress. To the contest.

As the Panther offense established itself in the first half, I began to think of the outcome, and what I would title my rant- I’m usually thinking about that by the time the third quarter’s over. I was thinking about it as the ‘Cats bulldozed to an impressive 21-10 lead. I thought of melting. Melting Wisconsin cheese, drizzly gooey Cheddars and Colbys surrounding delectable elbow macaroni. Slabs of tangy slices on perfectly grilled bread, oozing to perfection. Frozen Tundra thawing under the intense heat of the Panther attack, revealing the remains of Packer past futilities, much as melting permafrost reveals the remains of Pleistocenic Ice Age behemoths. It was turning into a much anticipated hour of joy at the keyboard.

But oh, those Cardiac Cats never make ANYTHING easy, do they?

What melted down, actually, for the SECOND STRAIGHT WEEK, was the “vaunted” Panther defense. Do you know what the Packers DIDN’T do in the second half? Wanna guess?

PUNT. They did not attempt at punt in the second half. They scored 18 unanswered points to take a 28-21 lead as you all had seen. You cannot play FoxBall without forcing MANY punts. But then, something else melted down, and it wasn’t the Panthers-

It was the Packer return team. Now I’m not taking anything away from Mike Jones, because his runbacks were terrific today. But if they make just a play or two, Carolina starts deep in their own territory. But Jonesy got us to midfield, where Jake was stupendous finding Smitty- ON THE ONE YARD LINE! TWICE in the half!!! Jonesy MIGHT just be the MVP today. I would be amiss to ignore the outstanding play of the offense in general today. The line, particularly Travelle Wharton, and to a lesser degree, Jeff Otah, played a magnificent game. There were at least THREE critical plays made by Wharton to contribute to touchdown scoring drives, and Otah opened up gaping holes for DeAngelo to scoot on through. Yeah, Jake got touched a couple of times, but he threw no picks, and the offense was PENALTY FREE for the entire game, save a delay penalty in the third quarter. Think about that for a moment. In a hostile stadium, with 60,000 drunken, hollering Wisconsin rednecks, not a SINGLE FALSE START. That’s incredible. And it’s an indicator of great coaching. Let me give Davidson some props for a second. Starting this game with a risky flea-flicker was a terrific call. Never mind Moose fumbles it on the Packer 16, because that’s kinda like a punt, and the Pack doesn’t score on the turnover anyway. I think the OC called a great game today. You tell me if you thought Carolina could score 21 points without Smitty getting ONE catch, huh? And let me say this-

There’s not a damn thing wrong with Jake. For the umpteenth time in his storied career with the Panthers, once again, he leads a quick, game winning strike in the last two minutes of the game. And the ball going to Steve Smith, his target, as usual. I guarantee you; the haters will come out this week and crucify him metaphorically because he couldn’t find Smith in the first half. Had we lost this game, much like last week, it would have not been the fault of Jake or the offense. When the Panthers score 28 points, they SHOULD win. But not today-

My knives are out for the defense. For the entire second half, there was no stopping Aaron Rogers and his passing attack. Save for a couple of sacks, there was no blunting reception after reception by determined Packer receivers. Did the secondary eat a double bowl of STUPID for the team breakfast? The coverage was decent in the first half, it vanished in the second. Simply melted down. Inexcusable. If the Panthers don’t make a HUGE goal line stand with 2.00 left in the game, the outcome might be different. I will give Jon BEASTon a pass with 8 tackles, at least, and a timely, CLUTCH INT on the Pack’s last gasp. But if Turkey-Vac doesn’t improve the play of the defense, we aren’t going far, much less make the playoffs. Tackling wasn’t the problem this week. Coverage was. And it must improve, and now. The 9-3 Buccaneers are coming for Monday night, in what’s the BIGGEST home game in recent memory. Garcia will slice us to bits if we don’t tighten the coverage. While this isn’t the totally uninspiring play of last year’s edition, it’s maddeningly lacking in execution. It made for absolutely agonizing viewing this afternoon. I could spend more time venting about this, but it’s time for some good verbage.

This was a game that was absolutely VITAL to the playoff hopes for the Packers, and they may have been irreparably dashed. Destroyed by the opportunistic play of OUR Carolina Panthers. How good is it for that to be US delivering the disappointment for a change!? How the Packer writers are going to gnash their teeth and rend their clothing in good ol’ fashioned Old Testament angst! With the Packers leading us considerably in time of possession, yards gained, third down efficiency, HOW DO THEY LOSE? Much like we did last week, in return coverage. I cannot overemphasize how critical to our victory Jones’ runbacks were. Just as Jerkoff’s returns for the Duckies sealed the loss for us, so did Jonesy’s returns. Simple as that. Reverse Karma strikes again, this time, with OUR running back getting four touchdowns! So, now we are 9-3, going into the final quarter of the season, with a great chance at not only a playoff appearance, but a chance to be a top seed. If I’m not mistaken, that’s the best start we’ve ever had. Ever. And we remain in control of our own destiny. It’s not a matter of hoping this team and that team beats this team and that team. And I can’t tell you how wonderful that is to have this late in the season. All we have to do is take care of business now at home, and we’re 11-3, and probably winning the division.

As Captain Foxy wipes the cheese goo from his grinning visage, the XO informs him the warp engines are ready to engage. He puts down his sumptuous grilled Wisconsin cheese sandwich, perfectly melted down, and says, “it is what it is, a win gets us there” A perky communications officer informs Captain Foxy a message is coming in on the subspace channel- It’s from Panther Nation-


And the Starship Panther blazes at warp speed back to Starbase Charlotte for the most critical regular season game in our history. I’m ready. Apprehensive, but ready. The phaser banks are fully charged, but the shields blow. And I need another beer and a nicely melted down grilled cheese sammich.

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