Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston talks about the Ravens' 36-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With quarterback Cam Newton and former Maryland wide receiver DJ Moore spearheading the attack, the Carolina Panthers gashed the Ravens and their top-ranked defense Sunday, scoring 24 straight points in the first half en route to a 36-21 win at Bank of America Stadium.
The loss was the Ravens’ second straight and their third in four games, dropping them to 4-4 overall heading into an important home showdown next Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Newton finished 21-for-29 for 219 yards and two touchdowns, including a team-high 90 yards to Moore, a career high for the first-round pick. That was more than enough on a day when Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco finished 22-for-39 for 192 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Running back Alex Collins fumbled in Ravens territory early in the second quarter, a potential turning point in the game. With the short field, Carolina scored from 11 yards out on a pass to tight end Greg Olsen for its first lead of the game.
With the Ravens offense stuck in mud, the Panthers continued to roll up points and entered halftime up 24-7. It was the first time this season the Ravens had allowed 24 straight points, and they ended the game with a season high for points allowed, more than two touchdowns worse than their average (14.4 points per game).
Jonas Shaffer, reporter: This was the kind of game that warms up everybody’s seat. On defense, the Ravens looked slow and listless, unable to stop the Panthers’ passing game up the seams. On offense, quarterback Joe Flacco forced the issue and couldn’t get the offense going after the first drive. All Ravens-Steelers games are big, but next Sunday’s will have some extra juice.
Childs Walker, reporter: The Ravens are a team in trouble after this all-points disaster of a performance.
Their injury-depleted offensive line struggled to protect Joe Flacco, who threw two interceptions in his worst game of the season. They undermined themselves with penalties that wiped out several would-be first downs. And perhaps most troubling of all, their league-leading defense could not mount a stand. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton shrugged off their blitzes and found numerous soft spots in a secondary that suddenly looks toothless with Marlon Humphrey out because of a thigh injury.
Now that they’ve fallen to .500, the Ravens will have to scrape and claw over the second half of the season to remain in playoff contention. That’s an all-too-familiar story for Baltimore fans who feel their franchise is stuck in a rut.
Peter Schmuck, columnist: The Ravens proved that it doesn't take much to shift the momentum in your opponent's favor. They started fast and scored a touchdown on their first possession of the game, only to stumble through their next one and set the Panthers up for a short-field touchdown. Cam Newton and Co. never looked back.
Earth to Marty: When you're at your own 10-yard line and you need only a yard, showing off a fancy play with your rookie quarterback is a prescription for the disaster that followed it. The play was cute. The execution was not. The game might have turned out differently if Joe Flacco had just sneaked the ball for a first down and given the Ravens a chance to keep moving in the right direction.
Instead, the game turned on a dime and the Ravens could not answer. They turned the ball over repeatedly, dropped passes, left Newton largely untouched and generally stunk up Bank of America Stadium in a game they really, really needed to win after last week's heart-breaking loss to the Saints.
Jen Badie, editor: The Panthers set the tone in the first half by scoring 24 points on four of their five possessions and never gave up control of the game.
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The last time the Ravens defense gave up that many points in the first half was to the Bengals in a Week 2 loss. The Ravens hurt themselves with ill-timed penalties and turnovers, which the Panthers capitalized on, scoring 13 points on the Ravens’ three turnovers.
Former Terp DJ Moore had almost as many receiving yards (90) as the Ravens (96) did in the first half. The Ravens could very well have a losing record going into their bye week with Pittsburgh coming to town next Sunday. After that, the schedule does not get easier with the Bengals at home and the Chiefs, Falcons and Chargers on the road.
Mike Preston, columnist: The Ravens blew a great opportunity to go 5-3 headed into the midway point of the season and instead find themselves at 4-4.
They are an average team but one that has more talent than they have shown. From this point on, coach John Harbaugh will be under more scrutiny. His hot seat got a lot hotter with the embarrassing loss to Carolina.
The Panthers humbled the Ravens because they rolled through their defense, which at times was No. 1 earlier in the season. The Ravens didn't play like that Sunday. Carolina did whatever it wanted in what amounted to a Baltimore beat-down. Can the Ravens regroup? They should because they hit a low point Sunday. There is nowhere to go but up.