After Sunday's 96-yard game-tying drive against the Vikings, saying that Panthers fans were shocked is a bit of an understatement. Somehow, the mostly lethargic offense came together and did what they needed to do, which didn't happen a single time last year. In honor of the team's first successful last-minute drive in what feels like forever, here's a collection of every failed Panthers 4th quarter comeback attempt from last season.
Fans will recall that the Panthers were 0-8 on these drives, but just how bad was it? Join me on this odyssey of pain and ponder the question... what if?
McCaffrey ran the ball four times in a row for 24 yards, but on 4th and 1, the Panthers got cute with a run up the middle by Alex Armah. The result was a run for no gain, and the game was effectively over. They’d get the ball back with 8 seconds left on their own 27, but that wasn't a serious attempt at a game-winning drive.
Just an ugly play here. Teddy didn't see the linebacker in the middle of the field at all and the drive ends before it can even begin. With one timeout and 1:32 to work with, scoring a touchdown was possible, but they fell short for the second time that season.
Prior to this drive, the Panthers had a solid drive going with just under 2 minutes remaining. However, on 4th and 2, Teddy put a little too much air on a pass to an open DJ Moore, causing him to attempt a one-handed circus catch, which he somehow nearly completed.
An incomplete pass and two straight losses doomed the offense's final drive in Week 7, as a sack on 3rd and 11 knocked the Panthers out of field-goal range with 2 minutes to play. Some fans argue that Bridgwater ate the sack when he could have thrown it away, but I'll let you make the call on that one. No matter what you think about his reaction, the pocket was nonexistent, which seems to be a theme around here. Unfortunately, that wouldn't be the only time that the Panthers' offense would force their kicker into a last-gasp attempt from a historic distance...
Moore bailed Teddy out as he was hit on a dangerous throw earlier in the drive (seen below), but he couldn’t come down with the second pass thrown towards a crowd of three Falcons. Bridgewater was injured earlier in the half following a late hit to the head/neck area, but returned with 9 minutes remaining.
Overall, it was a tough loss for a Panthers offense that only threw for 176 yards and allowed 3 sacks. But hey, the special teams unit converted on a fake punt with Jeremy Chinn, so who needs a passing attack?
In a surprising game that featured another fake punt from Matt Rhule's bag of tricks, the Panthers briefly regained the services of Christian McCaffrey and played the reigning Super Bowl champions closer than many thought possible.
Following several short completions, Bridgewater hit Samuel for a nice 23 yard gain to put the Panthers at the 50, but the following play to McCaffrey was stopped for no gain and the quick pass to DJ Moore was knocked away near the 45.
With two seconds remaining, the Panthers attempted a 67-yard field goal in an effort to win the game. Obviously, it was no good.
This time Slye missed wide right, and the Panthers fell to 3-6. This was the fourth straight loss by one score, and the fourth straight game where Carolina had a chance to win or tie the game on the final drive.
This was the game where even the most avid supporters of Bridgewater began to turn on him. The offense did earn some credit for driving further than they normally did under these circumstances, but they were in this situation because they failed to convert inside of the Vikings' 10 yard line.
On the drive prior, facing 3rd and goal from the 3 yard line, Bridgewater's pass was so far behind DJ Moore that it injured him. I still don't understand how he missed him that badly, but hey, whatever, I'm sure it won't come back to bite them.
Because the team settled for a field goal on that drive, they found themselves down by a single point when the Vikings scored, instead of leading like they should have been.
On the first play, Bridgewater hit Samuel deep for 35 yards across the middle of the field. Following a spike and a short completion to Mike Davis, Teddy connected with Robby Anderson on a nice 12-yard gain to put the team inside of field goal range.
The kick was ugly. It was wide left by about at least ten yards. This loss was a painful one, especially for the defense, who scored two touchdowns on consecutive snaps and outscored the Panthers' offense.
Teddy was sacked on 1st down, completed a pass for 8 yards on 2nd, threw an incompletion on 3rd, and completed a one-yard pass on 4th. Fantastic.
I'm not entirely sure what happened on that attempt, but it looked like Bridgewater could have led Samuel further upfield on the crossing route? This situation happens a lot on these routes (it happened at least twice against the Vikings this past week) and Samuel had one other man to beat, even if he did get past the linebacker who was there to wrap him up. I'm not going to assign the blame to Teddy on this one because everyone was covered on this play. The result was just plain ugly.
The Panthers did not convert on a single 4th down attempt in crunch time last season. That certainly didn't help.
A strange game all around, which featured one of the worst QB sneaks in Panthers history, ended in the only way that this offense knew how: A failed final drive after miraculously forcing a situation that could lead to a win.
Teddy opened the drive with an intentional grounding penalty, but threw for 11 yards on 2nd. He followed that up with an incompletion to Curtis on 3rd, and threw an interception on 4th on a free play.
With one final chance, Bridgewater sent the final pass of the game sailing over Anderson on a short pass to the right side of the field. Rewatching that final throw, I couldn't help but notice that there was no one near Robby at the line of scrimmage if they wanted to throw a short hitch and get out of bounds. There are many reasons that I'm not an OC or a QB, though, so maybe there was a reason that they didn't do that.
So, there it is. Every single failed comeback attempt by the Panthers in 2020. I hope that the pain that went into researching this was communicated effectively, because it was somehow just as difficult as watching all of these games live.