KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two minutes into the second quarter, the Panthers offense had played a nearly flawless game, scoring a touchdown on each of its two possessions.
But then the offense had to play the waiting game, left to watch the majority of the next two quarters as the Kansas City Chiefs dominated time of possession and took control.
"We did an excellent job (early in the game), but we still have to always value our possessions and get the job done," Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said. "No matter how many chances we get, if we get the ball in our hands, we have to score."
Newton continued his sharp play Sunday, completing 15-of-27 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. He never even came close to throwing an interception, recording a third consecutive game without one for the first time in his career.
When the Chiefs did limit Newton in the passing game, he responded with his legs, gaining a team-high 78 yards on just seven rushing attempts.
But even with the Panthers scoring touchdowns on three of their first five drives, they trailed 24-21 with only 13 minutes to go. The offense did, however, get the ball two more times – not including the final possession that began with just 18 seconds left – and mustered just a single first down.
"It comes down to valuing our possessions," Newton said. "We've just got to maximize our opportunities and get the job done."
It was Williams' highest rushing total since gaining 69 yards in a Week 2 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
"To a degree we did (run the ball well)," Newton said, "but we just didn't do enough."
All told, the Panthers gained 165 rushing yards on just 22 carries, an average of 7.5 yards per carry. It was their best rushing total since Week 4 at Atlanta.
RUN STOPPERS: On the other hand, the Chiefs became the fourth opponent in Carolina's last five games to top 150 rushing yards. Just one of the Panthers' first seven opponents rushed for 150 yards or more.
Carolina's cause was hurt by the absence of former Chiefs defensive tackle Ron Edwards, whom the Panthers placed on injured reserve last week with an elbow injury.
"(We missed him) a lot more than I thought we would," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "I was a little disappointed in some of our play up front. I thought our guys had to be more stout, and we weren't. We'll have to go back to the drawing board and get those things corrected."
FIRST TIMES: Rookie wide receiver Joe Adams, who has gotten the large majority of his playing time in the return game, got a chance to contribute on offense Sunday.
Adams gained five rushing yards on a reverse and seven receiving yards on a screen, the first rushing attempt and first reception of his NFL career.
Wide receiver Louis Murphy enjoyed a first as a Panther, scoring his first touchdown on an 8-yard hookup with Newton early in the fourth quarter.
"It was man coverage. The cornerback was sitting inside so I pushed outside, got his hips turned and just came underneath," Murphy said.
KICKING IT: Rookie punter J.J. Jansen endured his share of struggles in recent games, but he bounced back nicely against the Chiefs.
Nortman averaged 46.0 yards on four punts – his second-highest average of the season – and recorded a solid 39.5-yard net average.
Kicker Graham Gano recorded touchbacks on three of his four kickoffs. The exception was the opening kickoff, which the Chiefs returned to the 26-yard line after the Panthers lost the opening coin toss for the 12th consecutive game. Counting an overtime coin toss and the team's final two preseason games, the Panthers have now lost their last 15 coin tosses.