Turnovers, penalties, dropped passes and mental errors hurt Carolina in Friday night’s 19-17 exhibition loss to the New England Patriots, and the Panthers weren’t happy about it.
“We have to do better,” Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert said. “Too many turnovers. Too many penalties. Too many mistakes. Simple as that.”
Quarterback Cam Newton struggled, finishing 13 of 29 for 100 yards, although at least five of his passes were dropped, including a potential touchdown by Ed Dickson.
“(This loss was about) missed opportunities more than anything else when you break this ballgame down,” Rivera said. “That’s what this game was about – taking advantage of opportunities, and we didn’t.”
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The Panthers are 1-2 in the preseason, with the finale set for Thursday night in Charlotte against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Three who mattered
Cam Newton: Newton struggled early, completing six of 14 passes for 55 yards and two interceptions before, curiously, he was replaced by backup Derek Anderson for one series with just under seven minutes remaining in the second quarter. It didn’t get better when he returned – he finished 13 of 29 for 100 yards.
Rivera said afterward that Anderson’s series was scripted, not to give the team a spark.
“This had nothing to do with that,” Rivera said. “This was all planned out and mapped out.”
Tom Brady: The Patriots star quarterback didn’t start, and his first play came with just under two minutes remaining in the first quarter. It went for a gain of 37, leading to a 25-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead. With 10:02 to play in the second quarter, he dropped a perfect pass over Bené Benwikere for a 33-yard touchdown to Chris Hogan. He’ll return from his DeflateGate suspension in Week 5.
Marcus Lucas: The sixth-string tight end had two touchdown catches in the fourth quarter to account for the final margin.
▪ Left tackle Michael Oher was called for two holding penalties – although he didn’t appear very happy about the second call.
▪ Mike Scifres didn’t do much to help himself on his first punt. He got two tries after a running into the punter penalty on the first, a 35-yarder, but the second went 21 yards. He did not return afterward, icing what was announced as an injury to his right knee. Former Wofford punter Kasey Redfern’s first punt in his place? It went 61 yards. Redfern later had a second 61-yard punt, but it was returned 60 yards. The regular-season punter may still not be on the roster.
▪ An open-mic moment by the officials revealed that it’s not California weather in Charlotte. Um, we know.
▪ Despite the weather (hot, muggy, in the Carolinas), a good crowd showed up for Carolina’s first home game since Super Bowl 50.
▪ The Panthers are working out two safeties on Saturday, including former San Francisco 49er Donte Whitner and former Cleveland Brown Stevie Brown. Four of the Panthers’ five backup safeties behind Tre Boston and Kurt Coleman are injured. Colin Jones was also healthy going into Friday’s game.
▪ Wide receiver Philly Brown (shoulder) and tight end Greg Olsen (back) didn’t play.
▪ Luke Kuechly had a sure interception hit him in the chest on the Patriots’ first possession, but it bounced away. No harm, though, as Stephen Gostkowski’s 30-yard field goal on the next snap was wide right.
▪ Not to be outdone, Kurt Coleman dropped a sure second-quarter interception for the Panthers.
▪ Ted Ginn Jr. returned punts in the first quarter. That task had been Damiere Byrd’s previously.
▪ Tyler Gaffney, once a sixth-round draft pick for the Panthers of claimed off waivers by the Patriots as an injured rookie in 2014, ran for 35 yards on nine carries, including consecutive nice runs in the second quarter.
▪ Former N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Carter in the third quarter.
▪ After a relatively healthy preseason before Friday, Jeremy Cash (concussion) went to the locker room during the third quarter. Offensive guard Andrew Norwell injured his right ankle. Punter Mike Scifres hurt his right knee on a first-quarter punt.
▪ The Panthers must cut their 90-man roster to 75 by Tuesday and to the regular-season limit of 53 by next Saturday.
They said it
“Look at the mistakes that we made. Those are mistakes that the teams that are not as good as we are, that are not as talented as we are make.” – Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.
“We weren’t very consistent. That’s bothersome. It’s about playing consistently and making the plays when you have opportunities.” – Rivera