The Carolina Panthers suffered their first loss of the season the Atlanta Falcons in week 16. While the loss is relatively meaningless to the playoff-bound Panthers, their chances of a perfect season are lost, as they stand 14-1 heading into week 17, where they will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Quite honestly, we didn’t coach to our abilities or play to our abilities,” said Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera. In fact, Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton only accumulated a total 142 yards and no passing touchdowns, which has been rare for him this season, and is only rivaled by the game where Newton accumulated 124 yards against the Buccaneers, and still managed the win.
“We got our ass kicked today,” said Newton postgame. “Offense, defense, special teams. And I’m talking with the mirror in front of my face.”
While the loss has clearly shaken the entire team, it’s better the Panthers suffer from it now during the remaining games of the regular season, rather than in the playoffs where a loss could deter progress to Super Bowl 50.
But, due to their unprecedented win over the Panthers, the Falcons are still in the hunt for the playoffs, but their advancement is entirely contingent upon the outcome of Sunday Night Football between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants: if the Vikings lose, the Falcons still have a chance.