10 quick thoughts from the Panthers loss at Buccaneers in Week 17

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and D.J. Moore
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and D.J. Moore /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu /

Carolina Panthers blew a big chance

Up 21-10 in the fourth quarter was something the Carolina Panthers couldn’t hold onto. Their defense gave up two scores and the offense just didn’t have the right answers when push came to shove.

Perhaps this moment was too big for the Panthers. However, it was a situation Tom Brady’s thrived in throughout his career, and the quarterback picked apart Carolina with extreme precision to clinch another NFC South title.

Carolina Panthers couldn’t meet expectations

The Panthers have a real talent for raising expectations only for them to crumble almost immediately after. It happened a few short weeks ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the same happened again in Week 17.

Their lack of experience in a playoff-type environment was evident, especially late in proceedings. The Panthers gave up 20 points in the fourth quarter alone and although Sam Darnold kept fighting, it wasn’t enough.

Where do the Carolina Panthers go from here?

Now that the lofty dream of playoff football is over, attention turns to the offseason and its immense importance. Steve Wilks remains a leading frontrunner for the head coaching job, but there is a lot of hard work ahead, and several position groups are in dire need of reinforcements.

Darnold’s status as the starter probably won’t last beyond 2022, even though he’s far from Carolina’s biggest problem right now. Losing at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gives team owner David Tepper and other influential figures a mini-head start on their upcoming plans if nothing else, but it does not detract from how disappointing the end result was.

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