For the second year in a row, the Panthers are closing strong.
For the second year in a row, it doesn’t matter.
The Panthers thrashed the Chargers 31-7 Sunday, a sound and thorough beating, to improve to 5-9.
It was the Panthers’ third win in their last four, along with last week’s Super Bowl over the Falcons and a thrilling Monday-nighter over the Eagles. Of course, there was a loss to the Chiefs in there as well.
Last season, they won four of their final six, with a good win over the Texans along with two over the 4-12 Buccaneers and one over Curtis Painter and the Colts.
With a new general manager on the way, it’s unclear if it’s enough to save coach Ron Rivera’s job, or whether the latest play-out-the-string wins are just fool’s gold.
Rivera’s still just 1-12 in games decided by a touchdown or less, and that may be a more telling stat at this point.
What the Panthers did mostly Sunday was show up and care, which the Chargers (also 5-9) didn’t.
The Panthers outgained the Chargers 372-164, and took advantage of a pair of Philip Rivers fumbles and sacked him six times. That’s about the extent of the game information that’s pertinent.
Now all that’s left is the sorting out for the future. In San Diego, that’s taken care of. In Carolina, it probably still is.