- David Newton, ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter
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1. Who's got Super Mario? Apparently, nobody on the Carolina offensive line that appeared to be heading in the right direction in the opener. Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams had 4.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries. He made right tackle Byron Bell look silly at times. The Bills had six total sacks. No wonder quarterback Cam Newton spent almost an hour showering and getting dressed.
2. Interference or not? Luke Kuechly was having another one of those games in which he looked like the best middle linebacker in the NFL, with 14 tackles, an interception and a tackle for loss. Then, on third-and-6 from the Carolina 31, he reached out and interfered with Buffalo receiver Stevie Johnson, negating an interception by safety Colin Jones that would have iced the win with 14 seconds left. We all know what happened after that. Coach Ron Rivera said he wanted to get another look at what he insinuated was a questionable call. There's no questioning the replay. It was a mistake -- by Kuechly.
3. Seeing red (zone): Newton wants to be the team leader, and he talked a good game after the loss, proclaiming there's no quit in the Panthers. But after the defense gave him great field position with two fourth-quarter turnovers, he managed to lead Carolina to only two field goals after being inside the Bills' 20 both times. One touchdown would have been the difference between a win and more questions. That is leadership.
4. Where is Hixon? The Panthers signed Domenik Hixon to be the third or maybe second receiver. He was on the inactive list for the opener and didn't catch a pass on Sunday. Carolina still doesn't have a go-to No. 2 guy. Brandon LaFell caught four passes for 13 yards but had a touchdown go through his fingers in the end zone. Ted Ginn had three catches for 62 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown. He also had a potential touchdown go through his arms. Armanti Edwards remains a project.
5. Panic time? The Panthers have lost two games by a combined six points. They are 2-14 in games decided by seven points or less under Rivera. The secondary could be missing three starters -- strong safety Charles Godfrey (Achilles), free safety Quintin Mikell (ankle) and cornerback Josh Thomas (concussion) -- this weekend against the 0-2 New York Giants. Godfrey could possibly be out for the season. The quarterback is inconsistent, and so are his receivers. I could go on, but you tell me: time to panic?
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An examination of five hot issues from the Carolina Panthers' 24-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills:1. Who's got Super Mario? Apparently, nobody on the Carolina offensive line that appeared to be heading in the right direction in the opener.