Monday, January 25, 2016

Panthers Keep Pounding

Eight days ago I sat on my couch to watch the Carolina Panthers’ first playoff game, a division round matchup versus the Seattle Seahawks. Like all Panthers fans, I greatly enjoyed the first half during which our team dominated while storming out to a 31-0 lead.

At the half I moved to a new location. We had a visitor and while Vera entertained I parked it in a different room to watch the second half. Needless to say, things weren’t as comfortable in that environment as I watched Seattle come all of the way back to make it 31-24, with the Panthers having to recover an onside kick attempt by the Seahawks at the end to seal the win.

The comeback inspired a strategy article for PokerNews, titled “Football, Poker, and the Challenge of Trying to Keep a Big Lead.” It’s a theme I’ve written about before in various places -- that is, the strange discomfort experienced by some players when playing “from the front.”

Carolina obviously adopted a highly conservative strategy on both sides of the ball during that second half, going with run plays and low-risk passes on offense while mostly sticking to preventing long pass plays on defense while allowing short-to-medium gains that helped Seattle put together drive after drive.

In yesterday’s conference championship game, Carolina found itself in a similar spot by the half, up 24-7 and fairly dominating the Arizona Cardinals (surprisingly, I thought, given how evenly matched the teams appeared to have been). The second half then saw the Panthers adopt a different approach and remain more aggressive both offensively and defensively, and the result was another almost identical half, score-wise, as the final ended up 49-15.

I also adopted a different strategy yesterday, remaining right there on the couch from start to finish with no dramatic moves to watch from different locations. Like the Panthers, I decided to stick with what was working. Was a hugely satisfying game for Panthers fans, of course, and a nice finish to a home season that saw them win all 10 of their games at Bank of America Stadium.

Two whole weeks, now, to do whatever I have to do before Super Bowl L -- or, rather, Super Bowl 50 (as no one seems to want to hang that “L” on the sucker). Two weeks until I get right back on the couch again and stay put.

Photo: “Panthers iPhone Wallpaper,” Shea Huening (adapted). CC BY-ND 2.0.

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