CHARLOTTE — The Panthers kept it close and had one last opportunity to stun the defending Super Bowl champs on the road. But kicker Joey Slye’s 67-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right as time expired, and Carolina fell in Kansas City, 33-31.
So the Panthers’ aggressive, gutsy performance came up just short, and with the loss, they’re now 3-6 on the 2020 season.
Here are a few rapid reactions from the contest:
The Panthers had a hard time slowing down Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who finished with 10 receptions for 159 yards, just 9 yards short of a career-high.
Kelce’s biggest play came midway through the third quarter when he caught a pass on third-and-7 and took it 44 yards to set up a touchdown. Kelce gained 18 yards after the catch, stiff-arming safety Tre Boston in the process to gain extra yards.
Though quarterback Patrick Mahomes and wide receiver Tyreek Hill didn’t seem to be on the same page for much of the game, they got it corrected in the second half. Hill was wide open for a 28-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, giving the Chiefs a 26-17 lead after a missed extra point. Hill finished with nine receptions on 18 targets for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
Facing fourth-and-14 early in the fourth quarter, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater scrambled and converted with an incredible 15-yard run.
Bridgewater had completed a 28-yard pass to a diving wide receiver Curtis Samuel to begin the drive, but running back Christian McCaffrey was stuffed for a 4-yard loss on the next play. Two incomplete passes left Carolina with an unenviable position on fourth down.
But down by nine with just over 10 minutes left in the game, head coach Matt Rhule elected to be aggressive and keep the offense on the field. When Bridgewater had no one to throw to, he took off. And when it looked like he might get tackled a few yards short, Bridgewater leaped in the air and dove over a defender to gain the first down.
The extra effort kept Carolina on the field for Bridgewater to run in a 4-yard touchdown that cut Kansas City’s lead down to 26-24 with 10:22 left.
The game couldn’t have started better for the Panthers, who ran 15 plays and took 8:53 off the clock en route to scoring a touchdown on their opening drive.
Carolina converted a pair of third downs to get deep into Kansas City territory: McCaffrey took a run up the middle on third-and-4 for a 5-yard gain before Bridgewater connected with wide receiver DJ Moore for a 7-yard gain on third-and-6 from the Kansas City 24.
But when Samuel was taken down a few yards short of the sticks on third-and-8 from the Chiefs 14, the Panthers elected to go for it. With a blitz coming from his left, Bridgewater hit a wide-open McCaffrey in the flat for an easy 9-yard score.