September 18, 2005
Panthers vs. Patriots
At Bank of America Stadium, Panthers WIN, 27-17
By Scott A. Benson

You’d have to dig pretty deep in the steaming pile of manure the New England Patriots laid in Charlotte today to find anything at all positive about their humbling 27-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

I can think of only one thing: at least it wasn’t a conference loss. A small consolation to be sure, because otherwise, the Patriots stunk out the joint.

The offense regularly skulked to the sideline in futility and shame, neutered, their biggest offensive play on the day a mere fluke. The defense, despite numbers that may suggest otherwise, played just well enough to lose. Special teams were, for the second week in a row, an unmitigated disaster. Each unit was armed to the teeth with a never ending supply of ill-timed and ill-conceived penalty flags that made the Oakland Raiders seem disciplined by contrast, and made Patriots fans, well, ill.

The Panthers deserve credit for a ferocious defensive attack that beat the champion out of the Patriots, especially their MVP quarterback. Offensively, Carolina was hardly efficient, almost offering the game back to the Pats at one point, but did you notice that both times the Patriots handed them the ball deep in New England territory, the Panthers came away with touchdowns, and not field goals?

It was the kind of winning edge the Patriots didn