At the end of the season, Ron Rivera and his bosses are going to have a very difficult conversation. To make a long story short, this game is likely the pivotal contest that puts the exclamation point on the end of Rivera’s two-year tenure with the organization.
The ball game itself was fairly close throughout with the Panthers having the lead only at 14-10 early on. They trailed at halftime and never did reclaim the lead from an underachieving club reeling from the shocking off-field events of the last 36 hours. The Chiefs, with little to lose this year, went for a TD instead of an easy FG on 4th down with 3 seconds left in the first half. TE Tony Moeaki caught Quinn’s first TD pass of the day on the play where Moeaki was all alone in the back of the end zone.
Cam had a pretty good day statistically, going 15-for-27 for 232 yards and 3 TDs. He spread the ball around nicely, completing passes to 8 different receivers on the day and a TD pass each to Steve Smith, Greg Olsen, and Louis Murphy.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, an underachieving quarterback had an even better day. Brady Quinn, a first-round pick originally with the Cleveland Browns, had only 4 incompletions in 23 attempts for 201 yards and 2 TDs.
The Panthers’ run defense didn’t fare much better as Jamaal Charles went over 1,000 yards on the season with a 27 carry 127 yard day. Carolina’s offense outgained the Chiefs’ 385 to 355 but couldn’t stop a surprisingly efficient team.
The pass defense, ranked surprisingly high overall this year in yards given up per game, wasn’t up to the task as Quinn fired completions in-between Jamaal Charles’ 5 yards per carry average and couldn’t come up with a turnover as both offenses took care of the football.
If not for a late 5-yard penalty on the Chiefs, it would have been the first time in the franchise’s long history where they’d have had no turnovers or penalties in a particular game.
Rivera will undoubtedly find a job as someone’s Defensive Coordinator for 2013, but after this game I’d be shocked if he’s Carolina’s coach next year.