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end, they must go it alone. The t

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    December 11, 2017 6:12 AM +0330

    Being long shots is nothing new for the Carolina Panthers. Andy Greene Jersey . Carolina, 10.5-point underdogs to the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, were ruled out of playoffs before December by most fans and media members. Yet, the Panthers reeled off four straight wins in December after a six-game losing skid and squeaked into the playoffs as NFC South champions. The Panthers season rarely lacked drama; a 37-37 tie against the Cincinnati Bengals proved key in their playoff berth and a car crash that forced quarterback Cam Newton to miss a crucial game in December. In a surprising turn of events, the Panthers entered their Wild Card matchup against the 11-5 - yet, heavily banged-up - Arizona Cardinals as six-point favourites. The Panthers covered the spread with a 27-16 victory and held the Cardinals to a post-season record 78 yards. However, the Panthers turned the ball over three times against the Cardinals, a stat line they will need to avoid against the much stronger Seattle Seahawks. Newton, who returned in Week 16 after missing one week with two back fractures due to the accident, threw one interception and lost a fumble against the Cardinals. Those things cant happen,” Newton said after his first career playoff win, “especially in playoff football. We cant expect to win when we have three turnovers. The 2011 first-overall pick struggled in many during the regular season, including against the Seahawks in Week 8, but has thrown seven touchdowns to two interceptions in his last four games. Newton has also rushed for 232 yards on 37 carries in that span – an average of over six yards per carry. Newton’s may need to put his legs on display once again against a Seahawks defence known for their ability to play the pass. With All-Pros Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas likely to be locked on Newton’s top targets, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen, Newton may be forced to make plays on his known for the Panthers to have a chance. Benjamin and Olsen tied for the Panthers lead with 1,008 receiving yards, but will face a tough test against the Seahawks ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary. The entire Carolina receiving core had a quiet day against the Panthers, but nine players made a catch in the win. Little used receiver Philly Brown and second-string tight end Ed Dickson each chipped in gains of 20 yards and running back Fozzy Whittaker scored a touchdown on a 39-yard screen pass. Though Brown’s status remains unclear for Saturday due to a shoulder injury, the Panthers will again need depth players to step up against a top defence. Though the Seahawks secondary attracts most of the attention, the team’s stingy front seven make running the football also extremely difficult. Running back Jonathan Stewart has played a key role in the Panthers current win streak, and was one of the NFL’s hottest back to close the season. In their matchup earlier this season, Stewart was able to gain 79 yards against the NFL’s third-ranked run defence. He will look to better that mark in Seattle this time around. As a team, the Panthers gained 188 yards on the ground against the Cardinals in Wild Card weekend, a number unlikely to be reached this week. The Seahawks gave up more than 160 rushing yards twice this season, in losses to the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs. Coming off their historic performance, the Panthers will not have the benefit of matching up against a third string quarterback this week. Instead, the unit will take on the league’s top dual-threat quarterback this season in Russell Wilson. In their first matchup, Wilson threw for 199 yards with a touchdown and interception while rushing for 35 yards. Their success against Wilson and star running back Marshawn Lynch (14, 62 carries) will be something the improving group will hope to emulate. With their win over the Cardinals, the Panther became the sixth team to win a playoff game after finishing the regular season at .500 or worse and win a playoff game. Unfortunately for the Panthers, all five teams in that category before them have lost in the divisional round – including the 2010 Seattle Seahawks. But recent history is not on the side of the Seahawks either. Coming Super Bowl wins, no defending champion has won a playoff game since the 2005 New England Patriots. That win came in the same playoffs as the Panthers and Seahawks only other playoff meeting. The Seahawks won that game 34-14 and this week will mark the first road playoff game the Panthers have played since. In their return to road postseason action – and Seattle – the Panthers are 10.5-underdogs to the defending champions. Keeping the game close will be of the utmost importance for the Panthers as they hope to keep their unlikely run towards to the Super Bowl alive. Blake Coleman Jersey . LA (SportsNetwork. Brian Boyle Jersey . Patrick Sharp scored twice and Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell and Nick Leddy also connected to lead Chicago to a 5-2 win over the Devils on Monday night.Im writing this having just returned from the International Broadcast Centre in Sochi after watching and broadcasting a portion of the mens final in figure skating. It would be an understatement to say that I am still stunned by what has transpired here in Russia. Yuzuru Hanyu, a 19-year-old, has just become the Olympic gold medallist, the first for his country, in this individual discipline. Meanwhile, the three-time and reigning world champion, Patrick Chan of Canada, has taken the silver medal. Neither skated perfectly, far from it, but the drama of it all was breathtaking. And although I might have forecast a different result, I find myself unable to quibble with the bottom line. Someone came first and someone came second. The only call I took when I got back here to the hotel was from an old acquaintance and colleague named Dave Campbell at CHED radio in Edmonton. I had run into him during my Hockey Night in Canada days covering the Oilers. But tonight Dave didnt even mention the score of the Canadian mens hockey game versus Austria, a 6-0 shellacking by the maple leaf men. He wanted to talk figure skating. “You know, we were discussing Chan and the result in the office, and we were disappointed,” he said. “But then again we thought that figure skating must surely be the most difficult of the Olympic sports.” I would have to agree. Personally speaking, I cannot fathom what it must be like to go onto a sheet of ice in front of 12,000 people and to perform what appears to be a series of impossible acts without an overwhelming fear of failure. There is nowhere for these young people to hide. There is no mulligan for a bad jump, or second chance to eliminate the sting of a fall on ones ass. You cannot skip a shift and survivve in figure skating. Jamie Langenbrunner Jersey. . It is what it is. These athletes accept that they are required to stand and deliver and when the dust settles they must live with the result. In the end, they must go it alone. The thing is, I felt completely helpless for Patrick Chan as he skated with a chance to be the Olympic champion. I have followed his career since the time he first won the national title seven years ago. Ive been there for each of his three world championships. He has never dodged a question and never given an excuse for something less than a perfect performance. He is, in my experience, a conscientious and hard-working young man who is supremely talented. Tonight, he came up short, and I know he wishes he could do it all over again … but he cant. Dave Campbell may have been right when he suggested that figure skating is the most difficult of the sports. Im convinced it is simultaneously the most beautiful and brutal. The judges reward you lavishly when you succeed, and they punish you ruthlessly when you dont. And they make you sit by yourself to await your fate on a giant-sized television screen so that everyone in the arena and around the globe knows what they think of you. Those are the facts when it comes to figure skating. And while Im disappointed for Patrick Chan and happy for Yuzuru Hanyu, Im astonished that the result has affected me the way it has. Its not like I havent witnessed something like this before. “Its just so thrilling,” Dave Campbell said. “And its causing me to lose sleep, but I cant get enough of it.” I feel the same way. Its the savage beauty of sport and the incredible attraction that the brave hearts who dare to venture onto the Olympic field of play hold for me. 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