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Installment #4: Sports Fanatic

I am a self-proclaimed sports fanatic. I'm even part of a sports texting group called Sports Fanatics, where me and other diehard blind sports fans like me get together everyday to discuss games we hear on the radio. I like writing about sports which is why I started this blog. It's easy to write and talk about my favorite teams when they're winning. But it is the exact opposite for me when my teams lose. I don't even feel like talking about sports in those instances. But one of the things I intend to do with Calvin's Commentary, is write and talk about my favorite sports teams when things are great and they're winning and when I don't feel like it. That's what those sports writers and journalists that educate us do.

I'm slowly working my way up to talking about the fact that the Carolina Panthers lost to the Atlanta Falcons 25-17 on Thursday Night Football. That was their only prime-time game this year, and it was a home game. The loss brings the Panthers record to 3-5 halfway through the season and 1-3 at home. They have dropped three games in a row and the next two weeks they have matchups against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. One team won the Super Bowl last year and the other, some say is a good bet to win it all this season. Is this where the inevitable growing pains for coach Matt Rhule's young team begin?

The Panthers defense gave up six scoring drives and the Falcons only punted once the entire contest. The game's first possession saw quarterback Matt Ryan and company march methodically down the field, going to Julio Jones early and often. The all-pro wideout ripped off a 24-yarder, then a 28-yarder, and the next thing you know the Falcons had gone 72 yards in seven plays. They had to settle for a Younghoe Koo field goal though. So, 3-0 Falcons and not much damage done.

The Panthers took a 14-6 lead in the second quarter on two Curtis Samuel touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving. Donte Jackson picked off a Matt Ryan pass and things seemed to be okay. But a 13-yard Matt Ryan scramble for a touchdown and a 36-yard field goal saw the Atlanta Falcons up 16-14 at halftime.

After the half, I started feeling a little different. That earlier pre-game excitement had vanished. The Panthers had lost the lead and I was thinking about something my cousin said on our sports texting group. He said, "The Panthers almost never beat Atlanta twice." That is the truth Ruth. Even in that unforgettable 15-1 season, the one loss came at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons in the old Georgia Dome. But it was only a two-point deficit, and I was still a little hopeful if not excited.

The third quarter was running. I was patiently listening to the Panthers having a hard time getting to the red zone. Then about six minutes into the third quarter, Teddy Bridgewater gets hurt. While stepping up in the pocket at the Atlanta 37, he was tripped by defensive end Dante Fowler. Then when he was going down, Atlanta defensive end Charles Harris hit Bridgewater in the head with his right shoulder pad. Harris was ejected for the illegal hit and Bridgewater, after clearing the NFL's concussion protocol was able to return to the game.

Carolina was only able to muster three more points in the second half and the Falcons continued to have long drives deep into Panthers territory. They scored on a fourth Younghoe Koo field goal and a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Todd Gurley. So the score was 25-17 late in the fourth quarter. I think at this point for about twenty or thirty minutes, I dozed off.

In the final minute of the game when I woke up, the Panthers had possession of the ball and Teddy Bridgewater and company were on the Atlanta 30-yard line. The score was 25-17 Falcons, so the Panthers would have to score a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie. On the next play, Bridgewater's deep ball to DJ Moore was intercepted by Falcons cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. It was Teddy Bridgewater's fourth interception of the year and the huge defensive play sealed the victory for the team from down I-85. The Falcons finally were able to hold on to a fourth quarter lead and their record improves to 2-6. For the Carolina Panthers, it was yet another disappointing loss under the spotlight of prime-time.

It is hard to win when a young defense like the Panthers is fiercely attacked with long pass plays from the outset. Julio Jones had seven receptions for 137 yards, recording his 158th career 100-yard game. Although Curtis Samuel made his presence felt, DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson combined for seven catches and 103 yards. When these two teams met in Week 5, the two receivers combined for twelve catches and over 200 yards. Christian McCaffrey did not play and Mike Davis was held to only 66 yards on 13 carries. Nope. Not really a recipe for victory.

But as I like to say, sports like life goes on. There are a ton of college football games on today which I'm currently enjoying while I write this. And, there are thirteen other NFL games on tomorrow and Monday. That is if the COVID-19 bug doesn't bite like it has in previous weeks forcing games to be postponed. Otherwise, me and other sports fanatics will keep on watching and listening, talking, and writing about sports and our favorite sports teams. The good, bad, and the ugly. That's what makes being a sports fanatic special.

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