By David Rogers. October 14, 2018. LANDOVER, MD — A flurry of offense in the fourth quarter was not enough for the Carolina Panthers. They lost at FedEx field to the Washington Redskins, 23-17.
COVER IMAGE: Washington’s offensive line performed well in helping the Redskins to a 3-2 record for the young season. All photographic images by Dave Mayo for Blowing Rock News
With three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception) in the first 18 minutes of the first half, the Panthers dug themselves a deep hole in allowing the Redskins to lead 17-0 before the visitors from Charlotte had even smelled the scoreboard.
“It was a tough beginning of the game,” Carolina head coach Ron Rivera said to Blowing Rock News as he opened his post-game press conference. “Turn the ball over that way and it is going to be tough to win a football game. They took advantage of a couple mistakes that we made and it cost us at the end.
“I think our buys played (well) down the stretch,” Rivera added, “but it is a four-quarter game. When you don’t play well in the first quarter and the half, you make it harder on yourself. That’s what we did. As coaches we go back and evaluate this to make sure we are putting these guys in position to have success.”
Turn the ball over that way and it is going to be tough to win a football game.
A first glance at just the game statistics might lead you to believe that Carolina won the game. The Cam Newton-led offense picked up 350 yards of real estate compared to only 288 yards of total offense for the Alex Smith captained Redskins. Newton completed 27-of-40 passes for 269 net yards through the air, while Smith & Co. managed to complete only 21-of-36 pass attempts for 156 net yards. Both veteran quarterbacks threw for two TDs, but on just the second play of the second quarter, from his own 47 yard line Newton passed deep right in the general direction of Devin Funchess. Former Panther defensive back Josh Norman leaped high to intercept and thwart yet another Carolina offensive drive.
Besides turnovers — which Washington was able to capitalize on — the Panthers seemed at times to roll out the figurative red carpet for Redskins running back Adrian Peterson. Now in his 12th year as an NFL running back, the versatile back carried the ball 17 times for 97 yards, always seeming to pick up valuable yards when Washington needed them.
Carolina middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was almost philosophical in speaking with reporters after the game and analyzing how the Panthers’ defensive unit performed against the run.
You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low.
“I wouldn’t say it was great,” Kuechly admitted. “They had a couple of big runs on us, we had some minus yardage plays, so there is some good and there is also some bad. In order to be successful in this league, you have to be able to stop the run throughout the (whole) game.”
For his part, Peterson was quick to credit the guys up front who opened holes for him.
“I feel like we..were able to be balanced,” noted the one-time Heisman Trophy runner-up as a freshman at Oklahoma. “…We were able to keep those guys on their heels and got the running game going. The offensive line stepped up and did a great job.”
“I feel like (the running game) always starts up front,” added Peterson. “The guys came out there with a chip on their shoulder and you could see that…They guys…established the front line.”
If there is a bright spot for the Panthers, it is at they didn’t panic after going down 17-0.
“You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low,” observed Carolina’s second-year running back out of Stanford, Christian McCaffrey. “I think that’s the biggest thing. When things don’t go your way, especially in the first quarter, you (have) a lot of ball left to play. It is the same way in the season. There are a lot of games left this season, so it’s up to us to get back to the drawing board and get back there and execute the way we know we can.”
Next up for Carolina (3-2 for the season) is a date with the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) next Sunday, October 21st, with kickoff slated for 1:00 pm. The Eagles defeated the New York Giants, 34-13, on Thursday night.
Key Team Stats
- TOTAL OFFENSE (net): Carolina 350, Washington 288
- NET YARDS RUSHING: Carolina 81, Washington 132
- NET YARDS PASSING: Carolina 269, Washington 156
- TURNOVERS: Carolina 3, Washington 0
- TIME OF POSSESSION: Carolina 24:36, Washington 35:24
- RED ZONE EFFICIENCY: Carolina 1 of 3 (33%), Washington 1 of 2 (50%)
- THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: Carolina 3 of 9 (33%), Washington 7 of 16 (44%)
- PENALTIES: Carolina 8 for 55 yards, Washington 5 for 43 yards
LEADING INDIVIDUAL PERFORMERS
- Adrian Peterson (WAS): 17-97
- Cam Newton (CAR): 9-43
- Christian McCaffrey (CAR): 8-20
- Cam Newton (CAR): 27-40-275, 2 TDs, 1 INT
- Alex Smith (WAS): 21-36-163, 2 TDs
- Devin Funchess (CAR): 5 receptions, 74 yards, 1 TD
- DJ Moore (CAR): 4 receptions, 59 yards
- Vernon Davis (WAS): 3 receptions, 48 yards
- Greg Olsen (CAR): 4 receptions, 48 yards
- Christian McCaffrey (CAR): 7 receptions, 46 yards
- Torrey Smith (CAR): 5 receptions, 43 yards
- Jordan Reed (WAS): 5 receptions, 36 yards
- Luke Kuechly: 9 tackles (8 solo), 2 tackles for loss
- Thomas Davis: 6 tackles (5 solo), 2 passes defended
- Donte Jackson: 2 tackles (2 solo), 2 passes defended
- Shaq Thompson: 3 tackles (2 solo), 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hurry
- DJ Swearinger: 7 tackles (4 solo), 1 sack, 1 QB hurry, 1 forced fumble
- Mason Foster: 6 tackles (4 solo), 1 tackle for loss, 1 fumble recovery
- Josh Norman: 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 interception, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble