The Carolina Panthers ended the NFL’s longest losing streak with a satisfying 22-14 victory over the visiting New Orleans Saints last Sunday. The Panthers received needed contributions from a pair of newcomers fans may not have heard of until this week.

Carolina received touchdowns from Marquis Haynes and Laviska Shenault en-route to the win. The success may have lessened the frustration the team displayed after an 0-2 start. Still, all is clearly not well in Charlotte.

Let me start with the positives. Haynes and the Panthers defense got the team on the board with a 44-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. The timing was perfect as the Carolina offense netted just 15 yards in its first two possessions.

The defense carried the day as New Orleans did not score until the fourth quarter. With 12:19 left in the game the Saints had just cut the Panthers lead to 13-7. An innocent-looking short pass from Baker Mayfield to Shenault turned into a spectacular 67-yard catch and run touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion, the Panthers now led 19-7 and had just enough cushion to put the game away.

Laviska Shenault

Laviska Shenault

Now, the negatives. Mayfield and the offense struggled throughout. This is both a concern and a trend. Mayfield was erratic all day and completed just 12 of 25 passes. I read where just two of his completions traveled beyond six yards from the line of scrimmage. Nine of his 12 completions traveled three yards or less. Wide receivers Robbie Anderson and DJ Moore combined for just two catches for 16 yards.

The offense needs to thank the defense. The defensive front continually pressured Saints quarterback Jameis Winston into repeated mistakes. Jeremy Chinn had a huge week with eight tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and two passes defended.

The Panthers remain home this week and face the Arizona Cardinals. Baker and his fellow newcomers will attempt to even their record at 2-2.

Random Thoughts

I am not admitting to being an active sports better, but did you know that only four of the top 25 college football teams covered the spread last weekend. This means that there is a bit more parity in college football. Maybe the transfer portal and NIL deals for athletes will turn out to be a good thing for college football.

In a couple more weeks all four major professional sports will be playing. The World Series will end in November after the NHL and the NBA begin their seasons. And of course, the NFL will continue to reign supreme.

Did we really think the Tar Heels were going to beat Notre Dame? Or that Wake Forest was going to beat Clemson? Or that Duke was going to beat Kansas?

Speaking of basketball and speaking of Duke, is it really true that Coach K will not be on the Blue Devils bench this upcoming season?