Carolina exited Thursday Night Football with its third narrow loss in a row. But a close call avoided by its QB1 is an encouraging takeaway worth highlighting.
Down, 19-14, late in the third quarter and facing third-and-7, Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looked to convert on a key possession. After getting tripped by Falcons defensive end Dante Fowler while stepping up in the pocket, Bridgewater stumbled to the ground and took a late hit to the head and neck area from DE Charles Harris.
A skirmish ensued as the Panthers medical staff tended to Bridgewater, who laid on the ground for a few moments. Fowler and Harris were flagged for their actions with the latter getting ejected. Bridgewater eventually jogged off the field under his own power and, after clearing the concussion protocol, returned with 9:45 left in regulation and played out the remainder of the game despite dealing with a neck injury.
"It's a brotherhood over here. Everybody got each other's back. ... Teddy is tough, he came back out there on the field. He showed that and he finished the game with us," receiver Curtis Samuel said after the game.
Backup P.J. Walker came on in Bridgewater's place and finished the drive Bridgewater was injured on, which ended with a Carolina field goal. Bridgewater trotted back into the huddle three plays into the ensuing series, and completed five of his last eight pass attempts for 64 yards.
As was the case for much of the night, Bridgewater, who was sacked three times and hit/knocked down often, continued to see heavy pressure from Atlanta's pass rushers until the very last play, which ended up being a pass thrown under duress into the waiting hands of corner Blidi Wreh-Wilson to seal it. He finished the night 15-of-23 for 176 yards, a touchdown and INT.
A game-ending turnover in the midst of a rough night is always an unfortunate way to end a comeback bid, but the heart displayed by Bridgewater could be the type of effort the Panthers need to inspire them as they look to snap their skid in a tough road matchup against the Chiefs in Week 9.
"I really appreciate Teddy for his fight to come back in the game. I know a lot of guys would've quit but he came back and fought," running back Mike Davis said at the start of his media session. "So, I just wanted to say I really appreciate that a lot. He didn't quit and that's something I love to see. That's a quarterback I'd love to play for any day."