A tough start for DJ Moore, whose fumble proves costly

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CHARLOTTE -- The Panthers were rolling. DJ Moore was rolling.

Then it came to a screeching halt.

It was the season-opening drive and Cam Newton had just connected with the second-year wide receiver for 13 yards on third-and-11. Then came first-and-10 at the Rams' 41-yard line at Newton and Moore connected for another first down.

But while Moore was fighting for extra yards after the second catch, Rams linebacker Cory Littleton punched the ball out perfectly and recovered the fumble.

"I had two hands on the ball," Moore recalled. "He punched it."

Scoring opportunity gone. Momentum zapped.

“He just has to understand he has to protect the football,” head coach Ron Rivera said of Moore, who lost three fumbles last year as a rookie. “I’m not going to scold him for giving extra effort and trying to make something happen. There is also a time where discretion is a better part of valor, so he will learn.”

Moore was involved in another unfortunate turnover later on.

Early in the second quarter with the Panthers backed up on their own 15 yard line, quarterback Cam Newton attempted a swing pass to Moore that was tipped by Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam. The backwards pass ended up on the turf and Ebukam was able to dive on the loose ball, setting the Rams offense up on the Panthers’ 10 yard line and leading to a touchdown two plays later.

There seemed to be some confusion on the field of whether or not the pass should have been ruled a lateral or an incompletion. Newton saw the pass as an incompletion, but Moore thought otherwise.

“I knew it was a live ball, I tried to get on it,” Moore said. “That’s all you can do at that point when somebody’s really coming in at you. I tried to get it.”

Moore was able to bounce back from the turnovers and finished second on the team in receiving yards (76) and receptions (7).  

“You just got to come back like I did and play with better ball security throughout the game,” Moore said. “That’s the only thing you can do.”

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