CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There are some games where you can look back at the tape and say if just one or two things had went your way, the result would have been way different. Sunday's game between the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers was not one of those games.
The Panthers fell to 1-4 after an abysmal 37-15 loss to the 49ers where they were completely outmatched by their opponent. Carolina opened the home match as 6.5-point underdogs to the 49ers, who only had one more win coming into this game.
Still, it was easy early on to see why the Panthers were not favored in this one.
On the game's opening drive, San Francisco scored a touchdown off a nine-yard Jimmy Garrapolo pass to Tevin Coleman. The drive was highlighted by a 41-yard Jeff Wilson run that set the 49ers up inside the Panthers' 10-yard line.
The Panthers responded, naturally, with a three-and-out and a punt. However, they were gifted a turnover on the next drive when 49ers tight end George Kittle fumbled a reception, giving Carolina the ball near midfield.
A few Baker Mayfield passes slowly got the team to the 49ers' 23-yard line before the drive stalled, prompting a field goal attempt which Eddy Piñeiro missed wide left from 41 yards away. The miss was Piñeiro's first of the season.
Both teams traded field goals after that before the Panthers pulled off one of their most memorable plays of the season. As the 49ers were attempting to go up 13-3 with a 43-yard field goal, Panthers defender Yetur Gross-Matos broke through to get a hand on the ball and block the kick. The play served as a potential momentum-shifting play.
That was until four plays later when Mayfield threw a pass that sailed over Christian McCaffrey into the arms of San Francisco defender Emmanuel Moseley, who ran all the way to the endzone for a 41-yard touchdown.
To open the 3rd Quarter, the Panthers made their weekly trip to the endzone when Christian McCaffrey rushed to the right side for a 19-yard score to tighten things at 17-9.
As the 49ers added touchdowns, the Panthers only kicked field goals, even when the team was down 30-12 with five minutes left in the game, head coach Matt Rhule opted to kick a field goal which left the team down 30-15.
San Francisco added one more touchdown to make it 37-15 and the 49ers' defense relentlessly pummeled any comeback hopes that the Panthers had remaining.
In the end, the Panthers were just not meant to win this one. With the loss, Carolina falls to 1-4 and is 4th in the NFC South standings.
Next week, the Panthers face the Los Angeles Rams (2-3) at SoFi Stadium at 4 p.m.
AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.
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