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Rapid Reactions: Panthers fall to Cardinals, 26-16


CHARLOTTE — The Panthers did everything they could, defensively.

Offensively, they again struggled.

The Panthers lost 26-16 to the Cardinals Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, a rough performance for an offense that hadn't looked particularly cohesive in any of the first three games.

It was a tough day from start to finish for quarterback Baker Mayfield, who threw two interceptions and managed just 197 passing yards.

The Panthers continued to sputter on third downs, converting just 2-of-10, and creating a down-the-line problem for a defense that's exhausted.

Mayfield's first four games have been rough as a whole, with a few moments of clarity but no consistent themes. He got hot for a few passes in a row to DJ Moore (more involved, which helped) and found Christian McCaffrey on a few passes late, including a touchdown. But once again, Mayfield was getting balls batted down at the line of scrimmage.

And while they were able to rely on McCaffrey over the last few weeks (he had two straight 100-yard rushing games), he had just eight carries on the day (for 27 yards).

It's a chicken-egg problem, because until they can extend drives, they can't establish the run, and the passing game isn't able to do that right now.

— Once again, linebacker Frankie Luvu was all over the place, and he had the biggest score of the day.

His 33-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter continued a run of stellar play.

Last week, he created the first turnover of the season by ripping out a fumble that Marquis Haynes Sr. returned for a touchdown, sparking a three-turnover outburst that led to a win over the Saints.

Sunday, there was no follow-up act.

Luvu's playing incredibly well, but his frustration began to show late in the game, when he was flagged for unnecessary roughness for slamming running back James Conner to the ground.

— The Panthers played most of the game without safety Jeremy Chinn, who left early with a hamstring injury and did not return.

They played mix-and-match defenses most of the day afterward, with Sean Chandler subbing for Chinn at points, but using other personnel groupings to make up for the dynamic safety.

Without knowing the specific coverage, it's hard to place blame with any degree of accuracy at the moment, but Chandler was trailing tight end Zach Ertz on the game-tying touchdown in the third quarter.

The Panthers also were without Laviska Shenault Jr. in the second half after he left with a hamstring injury.

Eddy Piñeiro nailed a 54-yard field goal just before the half, keeping the new kicker perfect so far on the season.

He entered the game a clean 7-of-7 on field goals, after replacing the injured Zane Gonzalez just before the start of the regular season.

View best in-game photos from Carolina's game against Arizona.

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