4 critical observations from Panthers’ gut-wrenching loss at Falcons

(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Eddy Pineiro and Johnny Hekker
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Eddy Pineiro and Johnny Hekker /
4 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) Steve Wilks /

Carolina Panthers must find a way to win close games

An issue that has blighted this team in recent memory has been the inability to win close games. For the third time, this season, the Carolina Panthers were downed by a score or less.

Defeats to the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, and now Atlanta Falcons have come by a combined eight points. Turning these three losses into wins leaves the Panthers at 5-3 instead of 2-6 and very much clear in the NFC South.

Especially under Matt Rhule, this team was plagued by the same issue. Much was made about quarterback Teddy Bridgewater being unable to lead a game-winning drive in 2020 despite having multiple opportunities to do so – a problem that’s only evolved since his trade to the Denver Broncos.

It’s hard to argue that the Panthers are close to being a contending team, at least in the NFC South. But they are currently not able to find a way to get themselves over the hump.

That is holding them back. It’s tough to get on players too much for this because under Rhule, it was a culture of losing and it takes time to get past this.

Once the Panthers start to find a way to win games and change the atmosphere around the team, we will start to see some of these tight losses turning into victories.