The Carolina Panthers do what they do, losing again in the final minutes to the New York Giants

The Carolina Panthers do what they do, losing again in the final minutes to the New York Giants

Here we go again.

The Carolina Panthers, who entered Sunday without a game win in 10 months, had all kinds of opportunities to finally do so on Sunday. Instead, they fell into dreary and familiar territory, losing 19-16 to the New York Giants.

Against the Giants, the Panthers overcame two turnovers in the first five minutes with a strong defensive effort early. It was a close contest all the way — the game was tied at 6-all, 13-all and 16-all.

But the Panthers were 0-8 in their final eight regular-season games coming into this one for one reason — actually, several reasons. And several of them reared their ugly heads Sunday when the Panthers lost again, unable to score the necessary points in the final four minutes to win or tie the game.

Carolina falls to 0-2 on the season and #FireMattRhule is undoubtedly trending on social media again. The Panthers are obviously good enough this season to break their fans’ hearts over and over again. Under Rhule, the team is now 10-25 in two-plus seasons and has lost nine straight games dating back to 2021. The question now must be asked: How much more rope will owner David Tepper give Rhule?

This time, with the game tied at 16 going into the fourth quarter, the Giants (2-0) began a steady drive that took a lot of fourth-quarter possession. He was stopped at the Carolina 38, allowing former Carolina kicker Graham Gano to attempt a 56-yard field goal with 3:38 left. He made it — his fourth field goal of the afternoon in four attempts, two of them over 50 yards — to put the Panthers behind, 19-16. This, of course, after Carolina was beaten in the final seconds at home last week on Cleveland’s Cade York 58-yard field goal.

Carolina got the ball back, trailing by three, with plenty of time. But Mayfield was sacked on third-and-6, making the Panthers 2-for-12 on third-down conversions. The Panthers punted instead on 4th-and-16 from their own 36.

Needing two first downs to end the game, the Giants got one when defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis jumped offside. And then quarterback Daniel Jones took a 3rd-and-6 on a scramble, and that was that.

The game was within one score or less for the entire 60 minutes.

After a 6-6 halftime tie that featured no touchdowns, both teams found the end zone in the first six minutes of the third quarter. The Panthers struck first to take their first lead of the game on a 16-yard pass from Mayfield to DJ Moore. Moore already had a 29-yard reception on the first play of the drive, one in which he made a nice adjustment on the ball. The entire drive took just 60 seconds and covered 67 yards, with Mayfield also showing off his legs with a 17-yard scramble.

However, the Giants roared back as Daniel Jones suddenly got hot. It was the first of a series of costly mistakes by the defense, as Jones found several receivers open and then hit Daniel Bellinger for a 16-yard touchdown. That tied the game at 13-all entering the fourth quarter.

The Panthers defense dominated the Giants for much of the first half and twice bailed the team out of turnovers. Chuba Hubbard returned the kickoff in one of those slap-your-forehead moments, leading to a Giants fumble eight seconds into the game at the Carolina 22.

But Carolina’s defense held the Giants — led by quarterback Daniel Jones, who grew up in Charlotte — to a three-and-out drive. Former Panther punter Graham Gano kicked a 36-yard field goal, and the Giants took a 3-0 lead.

The next time Carolina missed the kickoff, it went almost as badly. Wide receiver Robbie Anderson had the ball stripped from him after a short gain on 3rd-and-22, sending the Giants back down the field to the Carolina 40.

But again, Carolina’s defense held. After Jones set the Giants up for a first down at the Carolina 5 and then Barkley made it 2 on the next play, Frankie Louvoux rushed the backfield to bring down Jones for a 6-yard loss, then Brian Burns he was fired. Jones is on third down, the Pro Bowler’s first sack of the season. Gano’s second field goal made it 6-0, the Giants.

Carolina’s offense improved a bit after that, but not much. He got two field goals in the second quarter from Eddie Pineiro — one from the 31 and one from the 32 — after Mayfield completed a couple of passes on the move only to see them short out in the red zone. A handful of missed opportunities also plagued the Panthers: Sy Smith dropped a shallow passing route on third down, and Luvou threw a sure interception late in the second quarter. Mayfield also had two passes intercepted after five passes in Week 1. The score was tied 6-6 at the half.

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