What we learned in the Patriots’ 24-20 loss to the Panthers Monday

Here are three things we saw in the Patriots’ 24-20 loss to the Panthers Monday night in North Carolina:

Pats unable to close
On third-and-7 from the Patriots’ 36-yard line, Devin McCourty was flagged for holding on tight end Greg Olsen, which set up a first down for Cam Newton and crew with under two minutes to play. Newton took advantage, hitting Ted Ginn for a 25-yard TD that left the Patriots with just 59 seconds to overcome a four-point deficit.

Tom Brady would drive the Patriots all the way down to the Carolina 18-yard line, but with no time remaining he was picked off in the end zone. It looked as though Rob Gronkowski was going to pick up a pass interference call on the final play in the back of the end zone, as Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly draped Gronkowski with both of his arms, but the referees picked up their thrown flag, ending the game.

Mixed bag in the third
When the Patriots struggled during the first half of the season, it was often due to their lackluster play in third quarters.

Coming out of halftime Monday, there was no such lull for the New England offense as the Pats orchestrated a beautiful, 82-yard touchdown drive in four minutes and 29 seconds. Short passes to Aaron Dobson, Shane Vereen and Julian Edelman set up Tom Brady’s nine-yard TD pass to  Gronkowski that tied the game, 10-10.

The Pats’ defense did not fare as well as Brady and the offense in the third, as they allowed Newton to scramble freely and lead the Panthers to an impressive drive of their own that climaxed with Newton finding Olsen in the end zone to put the Panthers up, 17-10 heading into the fourth.

Early mistakes prove costly
The Patriots found themselves down, 10-3, at halftime thanks to mistakes on both sides of the ball.

Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith clearly got under the skin of Aqib Talib early on. Talib, who broke up a third down passes intended for Smith on the Panthers’ first drive, was beaten on Carolina’s second drive when Smith hauled in a 42-yard pass from Newton. Three plays later, Newton found Smith for five yards. Talib held onto Smith’s ankle a tad too long after the whistle and after a scuffle in which Talib’s helmet came off, the Pats cornerback was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness call. The Panthers would finish off the drive by scoring the game’s first touchdown, a nine-yard touchdown catch by Brandon LaFell.

Talib was also called for a holding call on Smith, which eventually led to a Graham Gano 43-yard field goal.

The Pats looked ready to tie the game, 7-7, to start the second quarter but Stevan Ridley continued with his ball-control issues as he was stripped by Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short at the Carolina 13-yard line, turning it over to the Panthers.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.