|GAME NOTES: Missed opportunties on defense hurt the Panthers, too|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Sunday, 26 September 2010 19:48|
CHARLOTTE -- Carolina’s offense wasn’t the only unit lamenting the fact they didn't take advantage of opportunities on a waterlogged Sunday afternoon.|
Carolina’s defenders dropped four would-be interceptions in a 20-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, including one by CB Chris Gamble in the left flat that would have made for an easy 65-yard interception return.
SS Sherrod Martin also let a pick go through his hands and SLB Linebacker James Anderson dropped two.
“If we make those plays it’s a whole different game,” Anderson said. “Some of those plays might have gone for touchdowns.”
It rained for much of the game and Anderson said a wet ball might have been a factor, but quickly added, “You can’t use that as an excuse.
“The first one I should have scored. The second one was kind of tough, but they were both catchable balls.”
Anderson said other than the dropped interceptions, it was a good defensive effort for the Panthers. They were on the field for 75 plays and limited the Bengals to 305 yards while intercepting Bengal quarterback Carson Palmer twice. Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, the Bengals prolific wide receiver tandem, combined for just 72 yards on eight receptions.
THIRD AND LONG: One of the areas the Panthers again struggled in was on third downs, where the Panthers were 2-for-11. For the season, they’ve been successful on just 34 percent (15 of 44) of their third-down conversions.
JARRETT INACTIVE: Last week, coach John Fox stated that he hadn’t lost confidence in WR Dwayne Jarrett because he didn’t start.
“If he had been one over there on the sidelines (inactive) I can see how you’d say that,” Fox said. “But he was active for the game, and to get a uniform on game day I don’t think that shows a lack of confidence.”
On Sunday, however, Jarrett was inactive as the Panthers went with rookie WRs David Gettis and Brandon LaFell instead.
But Fox was still in defense mode.
“I still have confidence in him because he is on the 53-man roster,” Fox said after the game. “He’ll get an opportunity to play this season. Those are the things I talk to the team about when we do make inactives. I wouldn’t read too much into that.”
Fox said Gettis got the start because LaFell is just coming back from a hamstring injury that kept him out of last week’s game. LaFell made a nice over-the-shoulder grab in the second half that went for 44 yards.
CLAUSEN NOT INTIMIDATED: QB Jimmy Clausen may not have played all that well in his starting debut, but RT Jordan Gross said he was impressed with the rookie’s poise in the huddle.
“With his preparation and his poise, you can tell he’s comfortable in his own skin back there,” Gross said. “The quarterback wasn’t the reason we lost, it was the offense as a whole. I think Jimmy is going to do a nice job.”
OTAH STILL OUT: RT Jeff Otah missed his third straight game and Gross thinks that may be one of the reasons Carolina’s numbers are down in the running game.
“Jeff is a great player and is a force on that right side,” Gross said. “I think Geoff Schwartz has done a nice job stepping in there for him. I think if we had Otah in there we would maybe have some more yards on the ground, but that’s not the issue. I think everyone is taking a turn on offense being the problem. It’s all of us right now.”
Like other teams in the past, the Bengals stacked the box against the Panthers.
“If defenses aren’t afraid of our passing game, it’s going to be that much tougher,” Gross said. “There are no magic words. It’s not like we can just fix one thing and everything will get better. We have to do it altogether… It’s the same song, defenses stack the box and put two guys on Smitty (Steve Smith) and it’s tough. But we have to figure out a way to do it.”
Gross said he doesn’t see anyone abandoning ship after the 0-3 start, but added, “There’s definitely some concern in this locker room about what we’re doing offensively.”
WHO WILL START: It would be an upset if the Panthers don’t start Clausen next week at New Orleans, but Fox wasn’t ready to paint himself into a corner without watching the game film.
“Right now it’s too early,” Fox said. “I just think we have a lot of work to do on that side of the ball moving forward, not just the quarterback position.”
BLITZING BENGALS: The Bengals started really bringing the heat against Clausen in the fourth quarter.
“They were disguising it and coming from everywhere. I’ll have to see it on the tape tomorrow to know exactly what they were doing,” Clausen said.
Clausen took a shot to the ribs on his final offensive snap, but said he’ll be fine.
THE FIRST ONE: DE Charles Johnson recorded a sack in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, the first one by a Panthers defensive lineman this season.
THEY SAID IT: “Not focusing on the three losses that we have already and not focusing on the bad production. Not focusing on the problem but focusing on the solution to the problem — because if you focus on the problem too much you’ll get engulfed by that and you’ll end up 0-16.”
— RB DeAngelo Williams on what the Panthers have to do now after digging out of a 0-3 hole.
INJURY UPDATE: LB Jamar Williams left Sunday’s game with a neck injury after a collision on punt coverage with FB Tony Fiammetta. Also, FS Charles Godfrey appeared to injure his hand but said he was fine after the game.
WHAT THEY FACE: Of the 102 teams that have started the season 0-3 since 1990, only three have gone on to make the playoffs.
Carolina is one of five winless teams in the NFL, joining San Francisco, Buffalo, Detroit and Cleveland. The good news is the Panthers are scheduled to play the Browns and 49ers.