CHARLOTTE — Though they fought back from a slow start, the Panthers could not get the score they needed to tie the game in the fourth quarter, falling to the Bears, 23-16.
The Panthers had a chance at a late comeback, but with 1:32 left, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw his second interception of the game to seal the loss.
Carolina falls to 3-3 on the season.
Here are a few rapid reactions from the contest:
Carolina got off to its worst start of the season, beginning with the opening kickoff return.
Tight end Chris Manhertz was flagged for an illegal double team block, putting the Panthers at their 10-yard line. After running back Mike Davis got stuffed up the middle on first down, Bridgewater got sacked for the first time in two weeks at the 1-yard line. It got worse from there, as Bridgewater's third down pass was tipped by cornerback Jaylon Johnson and intercepted by safety Tashaun Gipson.
Chicago capitalized on the short field with quarterback Nick Foles' 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cole Kmet to take a 7-0 lead.
RED ZONE INEFFECTIVENESS
The Panthers entered Week 6 knowing red zone offense would be a key against a strong Bears' defense. But Carolina again struggled in the category, especially in the first half.
On their second drive, the Panthers drove to Chicago's 17 and got a first down after a Bridgewater 3-yard scramble to the 7. But the Bears tightened up coverage from there, leaving Bridgewater with no one open on third-and-goal from the 6. Though the QB scrambled for 3 yards, Carolina had to settle for a 21-yard field goal.
It was a similar story later in the first half when Bridgewater induced a neutral-zone infraction with a hard count to give Carolina a first down at Chicago's 3. But Davis got stuffed on first down, and Bridgewater's read-option was stopped for a 1-yard gain on second down. On third down, Bridgewater was heavily pressured and fired incomplete to wide receiver DJ Moore in the end zone.
In total, Carolina ran 12 plays inside the red zone in the first half and got just six points out of it. Davis' rushes went for only 3 yards while Bridgewater threw three incompletions and had five rushes for 19 yards, with only one appearing to be a designed run.
CHINN'S FIRST PICK
After Davis lost a second half fumble in Carolina territory, rookie safety Jeremy Chinn made the first interception of his career on the very next play.
The Panthers' defensive line flushed Foles out of the pocket to the right. He then made a poor decision to throw in the direction of tight end Demetrius Harris, where Chinn was in position to make the pick the whole time.
Chinn had a productive start to the second half, breaking up a third down pass to tight end Jimmy Graham to force a punt on the previous defensive series.
UNDER CONSTANT PRESSURE
Bridgewater did not have much time to throw all game, with the Bears getting consistent pressure paired with good coverage in the back end. The trouble started on the first drive when Bridgewater got taken down on the game's second play. But it continued with the quarterback consistently having to pull the ball down and scramble. In the first half, Bridgewater had six rushes for 29 yards, only one of which was a designed run.
In all, Bridgewater was sacked four times and took at least another six QB hits.
THE THIRD DOWN PROBLEM
Third down was an issue for both the offense and defense.
Carolina's offense knew it would be tough against Chicago's No. 1 ranked third down defense, and that turned out to be the case. The Panthers finished 3-of-13 on third down, struggling to stay on the field. Though they did receive seven first downs via penalty from Chicago's defense.
The Panthers' defense struggled to get off the field, allowing the Bears to finish 7-of-14 on third down. Chicago was also 2-of-2 in goal-to-go situations.