Entries in Panthers (6)


Like Kobe and Steph, Raiders find a way

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — He grew up a Kobe fan, and while that may not be what people in Northern California want to hear, the background is understood and acceptable. Derek Carr figures anything is possible in sports.

That the way Kobe Bryant brought the Lakers from behind, well, why couldn’t Carr and his teammates do the same?

Even after blowing a big lead. Even after Carr, the Raiders quarterback, the Raiders leader, injured his throwing hand and was unable to take snaps from the center in the old T-formation but had to play out of the shotgun.

Yes, the Raiders won another one on Sunday at the Coliseum, going way ahead, falling behind and then, just when you wondered if a season that so far has been magical and almost mythical was about to come apart, wondered if the Raiders were to revert to the bad old days, did their Kobe.

Or, making it more appealing, their Steph and Klay. Or more accurately, their Derek and Khalil Mack.

Oakland beat the Carolina Panthers, 35-32, a fifth straight win. They beat the Panthers after flying home Monday night from Mexico City, where Oakland defeated Houston. They beat the Panthers after building a 24-7 lead and then falling behind 32-24 — meaning Carolina scored 25 points in succession.

They beat the Panthers after proving that indeed the Raiders will offer no excuses, only persistence.

“What a great victory here at home against a really good football team,” said head coach Jack Del Rio, who sounded very much like one of the sellout crowd at the Coliseum. “Just proud of our guys for hanging in there and finding a way. That’s been a theme for us this year.”

A theme and a pattern. Five comeback victories. The team that once was unable to win, now, Kobe-like, Steph-like, Derek Carr-like, will not lose. The words of Al Davis float in the breeze, to wit, “Just win, baby.” And in nine of their 11 games this season, they’ve just won. Baby.

Such a bizarre game. Such a typical NFL game. Carolina couldn’t do anything in the first half, gaining just 89 yards total. Awful. Then the Raiders couldn’t do anything to stop Carolina.

“The third quarter was really tough,” agreed Del Rio, “and then we came back and finished.”

Carolina has been a mystery team. In the Super Bowl last season, a bust this season at 4-7, losing games but with Cam Newton at quarterback and other stars loaded with talent. The Panthers suddenly came together, with Newton throwing to Ted Ginn for a touchdown on an 88-yard play and to Kelvin Benjamin for a TD on a 44-yard play. Fortunately, the Raiders did not come apart.

“I thought there was a stretch where things were kind of unraveling a bit,” said Del Rio. “I actually tried to make sure to say, ‘Hey, let’s remember, if we keep fighting and keep believing, we’ll go from there. Then whatever happens, we can deal with it.’ I thought we snapped out of that and got our energy back.”

And got their quarterback back.

And never were without defensive end Khalil Mack, who had an interception and then a sack and recovered a fumble on the fourth-down play that, with a minute to go, would close it out for the Panthers — and thus for the Raiders.

Mack became the first player with a sack, interception, forced fumble, fumble recovery and a touchdown since Charles Woodson in 2009. And digressing, the TD off the interception was oh-so-similar to that of Jack Squirek, picking Joe Theisman, in Super Bowl XVIII in January 1984.

Asked if he knew Mack was that agile, Del Rio insisted, “Yeah, he’s got good hands. He can throw it too. He can do just about anything he really wants.”

What Carr wanted was to get back in the game after the snap on the second play of the third quarter bruised the baby finger on his throwing hand and the subsequent fumble was recovered by the Panthers.

“A lot of pain,” said Carr. “Something happened with the snap. I don’t know what. I’ll have to see the replay. Something was different from normal.”

Carr put a glove on the hand, and the team doctors gave him the OK to replace Matt McGloin, who had replaced Carr. When Carr emerged from the tunnel, the crowd bellowed approval. Carr, although desperate to play, only wanted to bellow.

“Probably the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” he said.

He winced, he gritted, he and the Raiders triumphed. Oakland clinching its first winning season in 14 years.

“I’m happy for the fans,” said Carr, who as a Californian — he played at Fresno State — knows the team’s history. It’s been painful, if in a different way from that baby finger.

“We’re learning how to win. I really believe that our identity is just a team that works hard and believes in one another.”

After Sunday, it’s possible to believe the Raiders are an excellent team.


S.F. Examiner: Defense, ball control can send Manning off in glory

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner

It’s as if the game already has been played. As if the Carolina Panthers won the Super Bowl. When, in fact, the Denver Broncos will win it. Win it ugly, the way underdogs usually do. Win it by keeping the Panthers from winning it, with defense, with ball control, with the sort of breaks teams like Denver inevitably get in games like this, and thus are described as lucky rather than good.

But in football, luck is not so much bestowed as created.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner


S.F. Examiner: Super Bowl in Silicon, leaving The City with silicone

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner

So it’s another Not-in-San-Francisco Super Bowl to be played in a city named for another saint, Santa Clara, which used to be full of orchards and now has a stadium where too many 49ers games are filled with regret.

It’s a beautiful place, of course, which is expected when something costs more than a billion dollars. And when it’s named for the denim trousers created by Levi Strauss out of miners’ tent fabric back when sourdough was a description of certain people, not the best-tasting bread anywhere.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner


S.F. Examiner: Curry, Panthers converge in greatness

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner

The jersey is in a safe. “And I won’t tell you where the safe is,” said Stephen Curry, playing a figurative game of keep-away with the skill he plays the actual game of basketball. The jersey is that of the Carolina Panthers, Curry’s other team. At the moment, maybe his primary team.

“I’ve had it for a while,” said Curry. It’s the Panthers’ white jersey, with blue and black numbers and edging, the same as they wore Sunday in mauling the Arizona Cardinals, 49-14.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner


Newsday (N.Y.): Colin Kaepernick, 49ers offense expect to do better against Panthers

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — While so many look ahead to Sunday afternoon's NFC divisional-round game at Carolina, the San Francisco 49ers, particularly quarterback Colin Kaepernick, will not forget the immediate past — a loss to the Panthers in Week 10 in which the Niners couldn't score a TD.

Carolina won that one, 10-9, on Nov. 10 at Candlestick Park as the 49ers had their fewest net passing yards (46) in eight years. They didn't score a point in the second half and finished with only 151 total yards.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2014 Newsday. All rights reserved.