Patriots come to town in battle of likely playoff teams
Panthers Hope for Big, Raucous Crowd on Monday Night
By Mike Leslie, Sports Anchor/Digital Journalist - email
Charlotte, NC -
The Carolina Panthers have their work cut out for them. Again.
Eight days removed from a reputation-bolstering 10-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers, the Panthers (6-3) will welcome the 7-2 New England Patriots into Bank of America Stadium for Monday Night Football.
"It's gonna be a playoff atmosphere," said Captain Munnerlyn on Friday. "It's a home Monday night game. I've never had a home Monday night game here. So, it's going to be very exciting, I know the fans are excited. And I know me and my teammates, we ready to play. It seems like it's taking forever to get here."
It will be here soon enough, however. And Munnerlyn and the Panthers defense have their hands full with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, and the rest of the Patriots offense.
Meanwhile, the offense plans to run the football. A lot. The Patriots rush defense ranks third-worst in the NFL this season. So don't be surprised when the Panthers run the football on a regular basis Monday night. Also, don't be surprised by success.
"Anybody that plays us is going to focus on stopping the run," Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross said. "We've got a lot of good running backs, and a quarterback that can carry the ball as well, so I assume that's going to be an emphasis of theirs."
Head coach Ron Rivera says the Panthers will need some support from the fans, however, too.
"We're trying to get everyone to wear black," Rivera said. "It would be outstanding if they all showed up in black. Just to show their support for us. The players feed off that energy. And you can feel it."
Kickoff is Monday night at 8:30 at Bank of America Stadium.
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