Skip to main content

Rapid Reactions: Panthers lose to Rams, 24-10

Christian McCaffrey

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Panthers didn't walk into SoFi Stadium in the best of situations — days after an early season coaching change, with an injured quarterback.

It managed to get a little bit messier.

Their only touchdown of the day was scored by a guy who didn't finish the game (adding to an already long injury list), and interim coach Steve Wilks appeared to send wideout Robbie Anderson to the locker room at the start of the fourth quarter after repeated incidents with his position coach.

With all that, their 24-10 loss to the Rams was almost a sidebar to the day; but consistent with their struggles throughout the first month-plus of the season, as they fell to 1-5.

The Panthers knew it wasn't going to be a day full of offensive highlights — for either team, really.

So they did what they've had some success with lately, scoring without the ball.

Cornerback Donte Jackson's 30-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the first half was the Panthers' third defensive score in four games, and exactly what they needed. The problem was, they were so limited offensively that they couldn't build on that momentum.

Jackson left the game in the second half with an ankle injury and didn't return. That left them with CJ Henderson and Keith Taylor Jr. on the field with a lot of safeties for much of the second half, and Rams quarterback Matt Stafford began finding openings.

Henderson entered the concussion protocol in the fourth quarter and didn't finish the game, and linebacker Cory Littleton left the game with a groin injury and didn't return. They were already without Frankie Luvu and Jaycee Horn, inactive because of injuries.

— The Panthers weren't going to put too much on quarterback PJ Walker's plate, which meant more on Christian McCaffrey's.

The Panthers dialed back the passing game considerably and leaned on their best offensive player in the absence of starting quarterback Baker Mayfield (inactive because of an ankle injury).

McCaffrey touched the ball 10 times for 88 yards in the first quarter alone, and finished with 158 yards on 20 touches.

Walker, on the other hand, completed 10-of-16 passes for 60 yards before leaving the game to be evaluated for a head injury late in the fourth quarter, putting practice squader Jacob Eason in the game. Eason used a 49-yard catch and run from McCaffrey to get the Panthers inside the Rams 10-yard line, but Eason was intercepted by Nick Scott in the end zone to end the threat.

— Anderson was shown on the television broadcast in an animated discussion in the first half with wide receivers coach Joe Dailey, and was sent to the locker room early in the fourth quarter.

During the first incident, wideout Rashard Higgins got between them quickly, and a number of staffers kept it from escalating.

But Anderson clearly wasn't happy and hasn't been productive. He spent part of the second half when he wasn't on the field sitting along on a beverage cooler, away from the rest of his teammates. When he got into it with Dailey again, he was sent to the locker room by Wilks.

Other than a 75-yard touchdown in the opener against the Browns, Anderson hasn't done a lot (13 catches for 206 yards in the first five games). He was not targeted against the Rams.

— The Panthers mixed things up on offense much more than they had previously this season, especially early on.

On the second snap of the game, D'Onta Foreman joined McCaffrey in the backfield, and they used more pre-snap motion and different personnel groups than they had in any game this year.

That doesn't seem accidental, as Wilks clearly wanted not to be as pass-heavy as the Panthers had been (which is reasonable since they were last in the league in total offense entering the week).

Related Content