The Carolina Panthers made a furious comeback on Sunday to tie the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter, but eventually fell 35-32, dropping their record to 4-7 on the season. The loss puts the team on the brink of being eliminated from the postseason just a year after going 15-1 in the regular season and winning the NFC Championship.
One major reason has been the team’s offensive line, which as head coach Ron Rivera described as, “It’s about as catastrophic as you can get.”
The team suffered from the absence of center Ryan Kalil prior to the game as well as the announcement that left tackle Michael Oher, who had not appeared since Week 3, would be placed on injured reserve.
Once the game began, backup center Gino Gradkowski exited the with a left knee injury, joining Daryl Williams, who left with an ankle injury. Quarterback Cam Newton was able to complete only 14 passes during the game, including a pick-six interception just prior to halftime that would ultimately prove costly.
In a game which the team played without linebacker Luke Kuechly or pass rusher Mario Addison on the defensive side of the football, they will enter their Week 13 game with a presumably rag-tag group attempting to block for Newton.
At 4-7, Carolina will need to rattle off at least four wins, if not winning all five remaining games in order to make the playoffs. All five of their remaining games come against teams with playoff aspirations, beginning with Sunday Night Football in Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks, whom they defeated 31-24 during last season’s playoffs.