This is the type of game good teams are supposed to win. At home, against an erratic opponent that had to fly across the country to play. With the ball in your hands and a chance to win with a minute left.
But the 49ers didn’t win. They endured a damaging defeat at home Sunday, losing 10-9 to the Carolina Panthers, who held the 49ers to three field goals.
The casualties of the loss: three starters lost to injury, the 49ers’ self-image, Colin Kaepernick’s rise into the elite, and perhaps even the team’s postseason dreams. The loss opens up a Hefty garbage bag full of questions about how good the 49ers really are and what their playoff fate will be.
“It’s tough,” Patrick Willis said. “It’s not good. But at the end of the day, we can only control what we can, and at the end of the season, we’ll see where it lays. It’s a loss. It’s no fun.”
The loss put the 49ers 2 1/2 games behind the Seattle Seahawks, who are that much closer to home-field advantage in the playoffs. The loss puts the 49ers behind the Panthers in the wild-card race.
And the loss wasn’t a great tuneup for the 49ers’ second tough stretch of the season. The 49ers travel this week to New Orleans, always an extremely difficult place to play: The Saints dominated the Dallas Cowboys 49-17 there Sunday night. The 49ers have a prime-time game on the other side of the country Thanksgiving week. And they have the huge showdown with the Seahawks in early December.
–Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle
Eric Musselman inherited a playoff team in 2006, but he was fired when he failed to get the Kings to the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
Reggie Theus couldn’t turn the tide in Sacramento, and Kenny Natt was never really given a chance.
Paul Westphal tried to enforce discipline and accountability inside the Kings’ locker room, but he didn’t have the support of the front office or ownership.
Keith Smart? He lost the team – if he ever had it – after he was verbally backhanded by DeMarcus Cousins.
So you’ll have to excuse Michael Malone if the first-year Kings coach hasn’t been able to right the ship through six games. After all, Malone is paddling against an unyielding current that has left this franchise floating adrift for the past seven seasons.
Fans will need to remain patient. It won’t be easy to change the losing culture. It will take time and effort, not just by the coaching staff but by the players, who so far have played as though they’re not interested in putting the team ahead of personal goals, as Malone demands.
– Victor Contreras, Sacramento Bee
Terrelle Pryor had done the math and determined the failure of the Raiders to score a touchdown with a first-and-goal situation at the 1-yard line was the difference in a 24-20 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Given the loss of four points when settling for a 24-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski and the four-point margin of defeat, it was tough to argue.
“We got three points and we lost by four,” Pryor said.
Leading 17-14 at halftime, the Raiders took the second-half kickoff and painstakingly drove from their own 20 to the Giants’ 1-yard line on a 5-yard run by Rashad Jennings for a first-and-goal.
Jennings, who finished with 88 yards on 20 carries, was stopped on first down for no gain. Pryor threw incomplete to Denarius Moore in the back of the end zone on second down.
On third-and-1, a false start on tackle Khalif Barnes pushed the ball back to the 6. Pryor threw incomplete to Rod Streater on third down.
The drive contained the only two third-down conversions the Raiders had all day (they were 2 or 12) and consumed 8:04 off the clock.
But instead of being up 24-14, the Raiders led 20-14.
“You want to think you can punch it in,” Jennings said. “We’ve got a physical group up front. … There are no excuses for not being able to get in the end zone, and that’s starting with myself just being the running back out there.”
–Jerry McDonald, San Jose Mercury News