The Panthers expected to play well coming off of their Week 9 bye-week, but the Titans had other ideas and they beat the Panthers in every single facet of the game en route to a 30-3 win on the road. First Aid for the Ailing Back There is a term used around football organizations to describe a traditionally successful player emerging from an uncharacteristic slump with a breakout game that catapults him to continued success.
That term is "getting healthy."
As in, Chris Johnson got healthy against the Carolina Panthers defense by rushing for a season-high 130 yards, including more than 100 in the second half of the game, after struggling for the first half of the season.
In early October, Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte used the Panthers defense as his medicine to recover from a two-yard rushing performance the previous week against the Green Bay Packers. Forte ran for a career-high 205 yards against Carolina.
Tim Hightower had 88 yards on 17 carries for the Washington Redskins before tearing his ACL early in the third quarter against Carolina. You could say he was getting healthy before he got hurt.
Johnson not the key to Panthers' loss
There were countless factors in the Panthers' 30-3 loss that had more to do with the result than Johnson padding his stat sheet.
Carolina gave up its third punt return for a touchdown this season to Tennessee's Marc Mariani at the start of the game.
Poor tackling turned a short third-down Titans pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Damien Williams into a 43-yard touchdown to put Tennessee up 14-0 in the second quarter.
The offensive line gave up a season-high five sacks and Cam Newton was under constant pressure all day.
Receivers dropped passes, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski got away from the running game, and Carolina was dinged for penalties 12 times for 99 yards.
No, this loss was about a lot more than Johnson, who picked up most of his yards in the second half when the outcome was already decided and the Panthers had seemingly given up on the game. This loss was about poor execution, poor effort, poor coaching and lack of discipline in a performance reminiscent of last year's 2-14 team. For the first time all season, the Panthers looked like a team worthy of a 2-7 record.