Monday, September 22, 2008

Week 3: Snap Back to Reality

Brethren: The Carolina Panthers came back down to Earth yesterday and I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. Losing to a desperate 0-2 Vikings team on the road, against a pass rush that looked remarkable, I suppose I'm not terribly upset. I was yesterday afternoon, but it wasn't as if I watched the game and thought, "Damn, we should have won that game." The Vikings outplayed the Panthers, stole the momentum late in the second quarter and never gave it back.

It was incredibly frustrating to watch the Vikings reel off 20 straight and see little to no fight out of the Panthers. Yes, if a few things had gone our way -- if the Jonathan Stewart kick return isn't negated, if John Fox doesn't call a timeout right before we block a field goal to keep it to a one possession game -- we may have had an opportunity to do the Cardiac Cats thing. But there were also a terrible amount of mental mistakes -- 11 penalties, an ineffective offensive line, and letting the Vikings uncork an eleven minute drive that spanned the second half of the third quarter into the fourth -- that truly made me realize Sunday was not our day.

The implications? Hopefully not too much. Four of the next five are at home (I'm going to the Kansas City game in two weeks!), but shit needs to get figured out, that's for sure. The Falcons always give us trouble, no matter their record, and right now, their record says they're just as good as us. I don't believe that, but I do believe we're in for a fight come Sunday.

More thoughts, desde:

Brethren (cont'd): My patented bulleted thoughts regarding the Cats first loss of the 2008 season:

- 1st play of the game for the Cats: completion to Steve Smith. That just seemed right. Too bad Jake couldn't get it to him more as the day went on.

- Jake claims that Smitty was streaking and wide open on the play he fumbled on right before the first half, and that he was gearing up to hit him. I'd like to believe him, but it just makes me angry. I kinda agree with Fowler and wonder how he didn't see Winfield coming.

- Two ominous signs from the week that looking back at I wish I could have taken more heed of: a) The call I received from Chops where he mentioned the last time the Panthers played a back-up coming for his first game of the year, Tony Romo busted us up something fierce and b) Me acting like I know when football lines are absurd.

- I've been to Minnesota more times in 2008 than I've been to Charlotte. I didn't take the pre-game tequila shot with Pam (I did the first two weeks and we won). And still, if anyone wants to blame me for this loss, I'd point them to J-Lew, who watched his first Panthers game of the year yesterday. Silly J-Lew.

Nacho: I sat in The Bar in front of our designated, prime real-estate seats to watch the Panthers play football on Sunday morning, and a funny thing happened. They didn't.

All week I taunted downtrodden Bears fans, exalting how insignificant I thought this Sunday's game was. They're starting Gus Frerotte and won't have [a 100%] Adrian Peterson! Brian McKinnie's still suspended and a rookie's going up against Pep! I might not be too embarrassed to wear his jersey! I said.

Then I wore my Panthers undershirt for the first time this season, watched my first game without my Goose (Ricky, a transplanted diehard Cardiac Cat lover, spent the day of the Emmys at Leonardo DiCaprio's house filming celebrity Obama endorsements. Ricky's priorities are incredibly out of whack. He wrote jealously...) and I totally forgot about Jared Allen. Apparently, the Panthers did the same thing. Not film Obama endorsements. Forget about Jared Allen.

Brethren covered the game too well for me to talk about it, so I'll just say this:

After Johnathan Stewart scored his third touchdown in 2 weeks (while remaining on my fantasy bench) I picked up the Panther bucket I had and beat it ferociously as my velcro Sir Purr hung from my neck. After an appropriate amount of elation, a young woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder. She stated simply, "My uncle played for the Panthers, and I gotta say, you rock. I miss good ol' Panther fans."

"Whose your uncle?" I asked.

"Rodney Peete."

Had I my digital camera, a lithograph, or the syrup-based artistic skills of Jean-Michel Basquiat I would've done something to keep that moment forever. We talked about how without Peete's guidance, there would be no Jake Delhomme and how meaningful and significant his time there was. I don't remember her name because I was drunk on power and Bud Light by then, but she was a Bengals fan and a pretty cool chick to say the least.

Anyway, I hear the Panthers are playing next week, so that's what I'm focusing on. The Dirty Birds look decent this year, but the guy who traditionally beats the shit out of us won't be starting this week (pulled hamstring. Also, he's in prison.) so there's a chance we can pull this out. It'd be a solid win and a great start to a semi-home stand.

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