Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 11/14/11
The Panthers are in an unenviable situation heading into Sunday's game at Detroit. Not only do the Panthers have to figure out what in the world happened to their offense in a 30-3 loss to the Titans, but they'll also travel to face a Lions team that undoubtedly will be angry after getting blown out 37-13 by the Bears. For the first time he can ever remember as a quarterback, Cam Newton played on a team that did not score an offensive touchdown. He called the loss embarrassing. "This is as poor a performance as a team as I've ever seen, poor performance by myself," said Newton, who was held to 209 yards passing. "It's never simple pointing fingers. You have to look at yourself and ask yourself, 'What could you have done better?' I know I could have done a lot of things better. It's a reality check, that's what it is." Carolina came into Sunday's game against Tennessee ranked fifth in the league in total offense and averaging 415 yards and more than 23 points per game. Of Carolina's 13 possessions, seven ended without a first down. "We had more three-and-outs than I can even count," Newton said. "If we call ourselves a high-octane offense with weapons, three-and-outs and putting our defense in those type of predicaments, it's unacceptable. Turning the football over, there's no excuses. We have players. We just have to go back and watch the film and capitalize on our mistakes and make sure those mistakes don't happen." The Titans said they used a spy on Newton for most of the game, and it worked. They sacked him five times, and for the most part, they prevented him from making plays with his feet and keeping drives alive. "I think they did some good things," coach Ron Rivera said. "They got us into third-and-long situations and dropped eight guys, making it hard on us. When you do that, you take away certain things you want to do offensively. We can't allow ourselves to get into third-and-12, third-and-14, third-and-15 because now you as an offense, you have to really react to what you are seeing. You aren't dictating anymore. I think that hurt us." NOTES, QUOTES TRENDING: The Panthers continue to have major struggles on special teams, as coordinator Brian Murphy's unit gave up its third punt return for a touchdown this season. This one by Tennessee's Marc Mariani came after Carolina went three-and-out on its first series, and the big play seemed to set the tone in a 30-3 loss. "Obviously, you can't come out and allow yourselves to be down 7-0 after special teams, after a punt return for a touchdown against you," head coach Ron Rivera said. "That handicaps you. It changes the game very early." Carolina's return game has been non-existent. At this point, you have to wonder how secure Murphy's job is. BY THE NUMBERS: Steve Smith entered the game as the NFC's leading receiver but had a frustrating afternoon with only 33 yards receiving. He remains shy of 1,000 yards for the season. Smith's frustration came out near the end of the fourth quarter when he wrestled a Titans cornerback to the ground, tearing his helmet off in the process. Smith was flagged for holding on the play, but he was not called for unsportsmanlike conduct. STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL WR Legedu Naanee has his best game as a Panther with eight receptions for 75 yards. He was targeted nine times. Naanee still hasn't scored a touchdown despite starting all nine games. LB James Anderson played the entire game for the Panthers despite rolling his ankle Friday. LB Jason Phillips did not play because of an ankle injury. TE Greg Olsen had four catches for 45 yards along with a costly fumble and an untimely drop. CB Chris Gamble had an interception leading to Carolina's only points Sunday. It was the 26th pick of his career, giving him the all-time franchise record. He had been tied with Eric Davis.
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