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Sunday, October 6, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Carolina Panthers

By David Newton

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A few thoughts on the Carolina Panthers' 22-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals:

What it means: That any momentum gained in a 38-0 victory against the New York Giants was wasted, that it was a catalyst for nothing. This was a poor performance against an average football team. The Panthers shot themselves in the foot more times than Arizona did, which took some doing. The defense played well enough to win -- as it has in each game -- but the offense was, to borrow a word from Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, putrid. For the fifth straight season, the Panthers have been unable to win more than one of their first four games. If general manager Dave Gettleman hasn't started looking at potential coaching candidates, as he says he hasn't, perhaps it's time.

Stock watch: On the way down, quarterback Cam Newton had his most inconsistent game of an inconsistent season. He threw three interceptions, had way too many other poor throws (once hitting the official), fumbled once and held the ball too long countless times. He did have two tackles, though, which isn't a good thing. On the way down Part II -- cornerback Josh Norman went from being in on 63 plays in Week 2 to inactive. On the rise, Ted Ginn Jr. continues to prove he's more than a kick returner. The Panthers need to find a way to get him the ball more.

Dropped and drops: Putrid begins here. The offensive line gave up seven sacks, including one for a safety. Receivers didn't do Newton any favors by dropping four passes, one by Steve Smith that would have been a first-half touchdown and another by Brandon LaFell that would have been a first down deep in Arizona territory when this was still a close game. Newton deserves some of the blame, too.

Early Pro Bowl consideration: That would be kicker Graham Gano. He is 6-for-6 on field goals, including a 51-yarder to end the first half. Opponents have returned only one kickoff all season.

What's next? The Panthers travel to Minnesota. The Vikings hold a 6-4 advantage in the series, last winning 24-21 in Charlotte, N.C., in 2011.