In My Opinion

Fowler: Quick starts key for resurgent Panthers

sfowler@charlotteobserver.comOctober 24, 2013 

The Carolina Panthers’ quick starts have been an enormous key to them playing better recently. They have gotten off to a 7-0 first-quarter lead in each of their past three games, including Thursday night when Carolina’s first drive ended in a one-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Greg Olsen. And Carolina has allowed only five points in the first quarter all year – three came Thursday night on a Tampa Bay field goal.

• As N.C. State fans know, Tampa quarterback Mike Glennon’s arm strength is superb. He threw a 29-yard first-quarter pass on an absolute rope to Vincent Jackson. Glennon will make a living in the NFL for a long time.

• The Buccaneers often seem to be in one of those “if it can go wrong, it will go wrong” Murphy’s Law phases that every NFL team goes through at some point. They’re not only bad, but also unlucky.

For instance, Carolina’s Ted Ginn Jr. fumbled a punt in the second quarter Thursday. It was obvious Ginn thought he had lost it. But officials ruled he was down by contact before the fumble, and Carolina avoided a huge turnover. And Glennon, while playing well, was undone a couple of times early by terrible shotgun snaps and a third-down drop.

• Ginn had a very active first half. He took a short third-down pass 35 yards to set up Carolina’s second TD to put the Panthers up 14-3 (they led 14-6 at halftime). But on the next drive, he dropped what would have been at least a 50-yard gain from Newton on a pass that went directly through his hands.

• “Fire Schiano” billboards sprouted up around Tampa on Thursday, paid for by a local radio station not enamored of coach Greg Schiano. Apparently, the radio station bought 19 of them, although just one would have done the trick in terms of publicity.

Fowler: 704-358-5140; sfowler@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @scott_fowler

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