Grading the Carolina Panthers for Sunday’s game at Oakland.
D Quarterback: Cam Newton followed a putrid first-half showing (including tossing a pick-six) with a much better performance in the second half. But it wasn’t good enough. The Panthers needed four good quarters from Newton; they got two.
B Running backs: Jonathan Stewart had his best game in a month, rushing for 96 yards on 17 carries. That included a 47-yard burst in the first half that was the Panthers’ longest rush of the game. Newton was a non-factor in the running game.
C Receivers: Tight end Greg Olsen dropped two critical passes in the second half, including one on a two-point conversion pass that Newton put right in Olsen’s chest. Ted Ginn Jr. and Kelvin Benjamin both caught long TDs. But Benjamin went out of bounds after a 9-yard catch on third-and-10 with the game on the line, prompting a punt.
C Offensive line: It’s tough to give this group too low of a grade considering what they were working with. Backup center Gino Gradkowski’s knee injury forced third-stringer Tyler Larsen into the game. And right tackle Daryl Williams left in the first half with an ankle injury, prompting the coaches to move right guard Trai Turner to tackle.
C Defensive line: The Panthers managed only two sacks vs. Derek Carr, and one was more of a tackle for loss by A.J. Klein. Charles Johnson threw Carr for a 5-yard loss, then gave the Raiders the yards back with an offsides penalty on the next play.
C Linebackers: Thomas Davis got the Panthers back into contention with two takeaways vs. Carr in the third quarter. The Raiders did a good job getting Michael Crabtree matched up vs. middle linebacker A.J. Klein late in the game. Crabtree’s 49-yard catch vs. Klein was one of the biggest plays of the night.
C Secondary: Daryl Worley had one of his best games with 12 tackles and two pass breakups. Safety Kurt Coleman added 11 tackles. But the defensive backs didn’t get their hands on enough of Carr’s passes, and the MVP candidate finished with 315 yards.
D Special teams: Graham Gano missed his third extra point of the season when he had one blocked in the second half. That had the Panthers chasing points the rest of the game. Not good. Michael Palardy was better, with a net punting average of 41 yards.
D Coaching: The Panthers lacked energy and a sense of urgency in the first half. That falls on the coaches, especially when Ron Rivera and Mike Shula decided to slow-play a possession near the end of the first half, which ultimately ended with Khalil Mack’s pick-6.