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
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…

News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

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…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

NHL

Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

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.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.