It’s difficult to win games if you can’t hang on to the ball; Carolina found that out the hard way Sunday.
The Panthers couldn’t climb out of their hole after three first-half turnovers, losing to Washington 23-17.
For the second week in a row, the Panthers struggled against a team they probably should’ve beaten, but there were no special teams heroics to bail them out on the road.
The NFL’s best rushing team hardly looked like it as Washington controlled the line of scrimmage and capitalized on Carolina’s mistakes.
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Three who mattered
Josh Norman: The reunion between the Panthers and Norman drew an expected amount of attention during the days leading up to Sunday’s contest, but the Washington cornerback welcomed his old team to his new home with an interception and forced a fumble in the first half.
Torrey Smith: He didn’t show up on the stat sheet through the game’s first three-and-a-half quarters but caught four passes for 34 yards and a touchdown on the Panthers’ first drive of the fourth quarter, capping the drive with a two-point conversion to bring the Panthers within 20-17.
Adrian Peterson: The former MVP turned back the clock Sunday, gashing Carolina’s eighth-ranked rushing defense for 97 yards on 17 carries.
▪ Despite DJ Moore’s two first-half fumbles, Ron Rivera kept the rookie wide receiver in the game to close the half. The rookie repaid Rivera’s faith with an 18-yard catch that set up the Panthers’ first touchdown of the day.
▪ Rivera earlier in the week said the Panthers would keep linebacker Thomas Davis on a pitch count in his first game back from a four-game suspension. It didn’t look like any pitch count was in effect Sunday; Davis appeared to play the entire game and showed few signs of rust, if any.
▪ Washington entered the game with the league’s sixth-best rushing defense but hadn’t played a team ranked better than 18th in rushing offense. It proved its standing is no fluke, holding the Panthers, who averaged a league-best 154 rushing yards per game through four games, to a season-low 81 yards on the ground.
▪ Cam Newton threw his first interception in five career games against Washington — a team he previously played some of his best football against. Newton averaged 251 passing yards in the four previous matchups, tossing nine touchdowns and running for two more.
▪ Julius Peppers passed Charles Woodson for the seventh-most career games played by a defensive player in NFL history.
▪ Thomas Davis recorded his 1,000th career tackle, joining an exclusive club of now 25 players in NFL history to do so.
▪ In his return from a fractured foot, tight end Greg Olsen caught four passes for 48 yards, and nearly made a highlight-reel one-handed grab on the Panthers’ final drive of the game but didn’t get his second foot in bounds.
They said it
“They only guys who don’t make mistakes are the ones who don’t play.” – Greg Olsen on his advice to D.J. Moore
“I just told him to keep that same energy but they got the juice. They won, ain’t no point in me talking. I don’t want to have no Twitter beef with nobody.” – Cam Newton on trash talk with Josh Norman
“That was Devin Funchess who caught the ball though. That’s all I know, I know how to play hard for my team, 110 percent. Like I tell y’all, I’m gonna give my all for this team every single play that I can.” – Devin Funchess on whether he “Moss’d” Washington CB Quinton Dunbar.