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Panthers Play Hard in Opener, Vow to Continue to Keep Getting Better as Season Goes Along

When the Carolina Panthers and new coach Matt Rhule took the field for the first time Sunday to take on the Raiders, not many truly knew what to expect.

From the perspective of looking like a football team that knew what they were doing, that came rather easily which is a great sign for the long term success of the franchise.

The game against Las Vegas was a good measuring stick to see where the Panthers stood, but there’s got to be more games played to get a true sense of what players deserve to play.

If you bet on the Panthers with, you liked your chances as the team held a lead into the fourth quarter and even with the game on the line.

The problem is the Raiders just would not go away, and eventually Jon Gruden’s bunch were able to do enough to pull out a 34-30 win.

“There are no moral victories in this sport,” Panthers steady QB Teddy Bridgewater said after the loss.

The new Panther QB finished 22 of 34 for 270 yards and one touchdown in his debut. He said he was brought to tears during the playing of the Black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in pregame warmups, thinking about his own journey back to being a full-time starting QB following a horrific knee injury in 2016.

“I was thinking about the process and the journey,” Bridgewater said. “I shed so many tears I had to run off the field early.”

It’s good to have a team leader like Bridgewater, who is embracing his chance to not only play a lot for the Panthers, but be a vocal leader as well.

In a season that looks like it’s going to have plenty of growing pains, having a high character quarterback that can do things outside of the pocket is a huge plus for the team.

“I thought he did a great job today. I thought he was poised, decisive. He’s a heck of a player and a heck of a leader, and I’m excited to continue to play with him,” Panthers running back Christian McCaffery said of the team’s new QB.

The journey to getting back to being respected in the league is going to be in the hands of this franchise.

A loss Sunday was in a lot of ways expected, as the bookies in Vegas had the Raiders as a slight favorite.

The young cats get another shot this week as they travel to play the Bucs in Tampa, a task that with a few bounces their way, it could be an upset for this young team on the rise.

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