The Panthers, once again, are starting their season 0-1. A loss at home with the team's best cornerback suffering an ankle injury in front of a stadium of empty Carolina blue seats.
But throughout the season, the Panthers are going to be worth watching for far more than the final outcome or a couple of statistical notes. This is building a team for the future, and throughout 2020 we are going to get a better sense of what that future looks like exactly.
The loss to the Raiders was an up-and-down affair that included the Panthers almost pulling off a dramatic come-from-behind win while team owner David Tepper and his wife, Nicole, watched from their luxury box above the field.
What did we learn from Sunday afternoon's game? That the Panthers have a lot of growing to do and that the defense will likely continue to be an area that will continue to develop for some time. But here are some areas that stood out.
The third quarter was ugly for the Panthers. Zero points were scored and 10 were given up. The two drives that occurred solely during the quarter were both three-and-outs. After not having any penalties throughout the first half, they had four for 47 yards, including a taunting penalty by wide receiver DJ Moore following an incomplete pass when he poked Lamarcus Joyner's helmet after the defensive back had some choice words with him.
But that penalty took place with nine seconds remaining in the quarter. And the Panthers went on to score at the end of the drive on a three-yard touchdown run by Christian McCaffrey.
The third quarter could have taken everything out of the Panthers to whether they counted the game as over and started moving on to next week at Tampa Bay.
Instead, the Panthers fought back from a 12-point deficit and reclaimed the lead. That's what you want to see from a young team with no fans in the stands, especially one that lacked energy in a scrimmage just a week ago. Not only did the offense put together back-to-back scoring drives, but the young defense came up with a key stop on the drive in between.
It says a lot about a team when they are able to come back in a game when things get rough.