Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 11/22/11
NOTES One of the major problems with the Panthers on Sunday was their inability to tackle. On Kevin Smith's last touchdown for Detroit, three Carolina defenders had a chance to bring him down, but all whiffed. "Guys are out of position, probably the biggest thing," coach Ron Rivera said. "We watch the tape and study the tape, we'll see. And we gotta also put them in better position to make plays, too, now. It's not just about players, it's about making sure we are in the best position. When you play a game, it's not just about the players themselves. It's (also) about the coaching; it falls back to me as well. So, I'm not going to sit here and say individuals or anything like that. I'm going to say this is a team loss; if you play the second half the way we did, we're going to get beat." Cam Newton threw for 288 yards and a touchdown and ran for two scores Sunday, but he clearly he wasn't on his game. The Lions pressured him into four interceptions. "He was just a little high," Rivera said. "You know, he had some pretty good shots as far as throwing the ball down the field. He had some guys and (threw) just a little bit on the high side. You'd love to see him bring those down a little bit, and those will come. I mean, you know, these conditions were ideal, obviously, being indoors, being on the turf. "We had some guys open, and he delivered the ball a little bit high a couple times, a little bit off the mark, which is too bad. As accurate as he's been, and as well as he's played, it's an opportunity for him to come back after last week, and he had the chances. He made some plays, but unfortunately he had a couple that he didn't make today that would have helped." Newton said the Panthers might have stepped off the gas too early in the second half, which is not a good idea against a Lions team that has won three games in which it trailed by 17 or more points this season before coming back to win. "First half, we came out explosive. You know, like football's supposed to be played," Newton said. "Players come up, players are executing, (plays) being made, blocking, plays are being made. Second half, (we) came out as if we were just trying to hold on, and you can't do that to a team like this, especially with an explosive offense like they have. The talent that they got on that defense, you have to be in attack mode the whole game. And we have to learn how to play four quarters of football." PLAYER NOTES DE Charles Johnson will have an MRI on his left shoulder. DE Greg Hardy twisted his ankle Sunday, but he should be fine this week. LB Omar Gaither re-injured his knee Sunday. He missed two games with a sprained MCL. LB Dan Connor missed Sunday's game with a shoulder problem, but the team is hoping he might get back on the field this week. WR Steve Smith has yet to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving this season. He has 992 yards and has fallen well of the pace of breaking Jerry Rice's single-season record. TE Greg Olsen is second on the team in receptions (37), receiving yards (427) and touchdown receptions (four) but has been a non-factor in the past two games. KR Kealoha Pilares' 101-yard kickoff return was the longest in team history and the first kickoff return for a TD for the Panthers since 2003, when Rod "He Hate Me" Smart had one. DE Thomas Keiser, who was called up from the practice squad two weeks ago, had two sacks Sunday. The problem is, nobody else got any real pressure on the quarterback. REPORT CARD VS. BENGALS PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Cam Newton was out of sorts at times, throwing a career-high four interceptions. Tight end Greg Olsen was surprisingly a non-factor on offense with Jeremy Shockey out of the lineup. It's pretty clear the Panthers need to upgrade at the No. 2 receiver spot to give Steve Smith some help. That might come from the return of David Gettis next season. Newton did complete one touchdown pass. The offensive line again struggled in pass protection. RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Panthers actually ran the ball fairly well against the Lions, which was expected given Detroit ranked 27th in the league against the run. Carolina opened some big holes and DeAngelo Williams had a strong day. The Panthers tried to go to more of that in the second half, but quickly fell behind. Newton ran for two touchdowns. PASS DEFENSE: F -- The Panthers allowed Matthew Stafford to throw for 335 yards and five touchdowns to five different receivers. The Carolina defense has been decimated by injuries, and clearly the Lions took advantage. RUSH DEFENSE: F -- Two weeks ago, Kevin Smith was out of the league, but the Lions brought him back, and he ran for 140 yards and two scores. The Panthers' defense seems to be the cure for any running back in need of a big week or a jump-start to his season. Carolina's tackling was atrocious Sunday. SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Finally, a good game for Carolina's special teams. The coverage teams were solid, and Kealoha Pilares had the Panthers' first big return of the season, taking a kickoff back 101 yards for a touchdown. COACHING: D-minus -- The Panthers held a 17-point lead at one point in the first half, but the Lions made adjustments -- and the Panthers didn't -- at halftime. Detroit outscored Carolina 35-8 in the second half. Granted, the Panthers are banged up, and there's only so much the coaches can do.
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