4 critical observations from Panthers’ loss vs. Browns in Week 1

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /
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What were some critical observations from a heartbreaking opening day loss for the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium?

Football season is back, and once again the Carolina Panthers broke our hearts. After a turgid first half where the offense found no consistency, Baker Mayfield scored two touchdowns – one with his legs and one through the air – to lead his team back into the game.

However, on a day when the Panthers’ offense started to click after a rough opening, the defense found little to no consistency.

Crucial penalties from C.J. Henderson and Jaycee Horn coupled with the Panthers’ expected struggles against the run meant that Carolina’s defense could not hold up. Despite this, an Eddy Pineiro field goal with 80 seconds remaining put the home team up 24-23 and it seemed they had a glimmer of hope.

But some questionable officiating calls meant the Panthers couldn’t keep the Cleveland Browns out of the danger zone. On a day where kicking troubles radiated around the league, rookie fourth-round selection Cade York drilled a 58-yard attempt to provide Kevin Stefanski’s men with their first opening day victory since 2004.

There was plenty to ponder for the Panthers, who face another stern test of their credentials next Sunday at the rejuvenated New York Giants. This poses a huge challenge for head coach Matt Rhule, with much work ahead in the coming days in pursuit of getting back on track following their eighth-straight defeat dating back to last season.

With that being said, here are four critical observations as the Panthers opened the 2022 season tasting yet another loss.