Panthers lose to Cardinals after offense falls flat, commits three turnovers

Carolina was outscored by Arizona 23-6 in the second half.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is tackled by Arizona Cardinals linebacker...
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is tackled by Arizona Cardinals linebacker Devon Kennard during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)(Rusty Jones | AP)
Published: Oct. 2, 2022 at 7:14 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Carolina Panthers lost to the Arizona Cardinals 26-16 on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium after the offense fell flat once again.

For the fourth-straight week now, the Panthers’ offense has struggled to put many points on the board. Four games into the 2022 season, they have yet to score more than 24 points.

A big reason for their offensive struggles has been the indifferent play of quarterback Baker Mayfield. His passing statistics have been pedestrian to say the least, with him averaging just 187 yards per game, and has just four passing touchdowns.

He hasn’t made many crucial mistakes, but also hasn’t provided the offensive boost that the Panthers were hoping to get when they traded for the former No. 1 overall pick.

On Sunday against Arizona, he threw for only 197 yards with a late touchdown and two inopportune interceptions.

As a team, Carolina finished with just 220 total yards of offense.

The highlight of the day for Carolina came in the second quarter when linebacker Frankie Luvu intercepted a Kyler Murray pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown. Luvu finished the game with 11 tackles along with the interception as he continues to play well.

Luvu’s pick-six marked the first time the Panthers had scored defensive touchdowns in back-to-back games since 2005. Last week, Marquis Haynes returned a fumble for a score against the Saints.

The Panthers had plenty of opportunities to put points on the board or extend drives, but continually made mistakes.

Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity came near the end of the second quarter when Rashard Higgins fumbled on what appeared to be a double reverse. Carolina had been driving and was inside the Cardinals’ 40-yard line at the time of the turnover. After recovering the fumble, Arizona marched down the field and kicked a field goal.

Then, in the third quarter, the Panthers appeared to convert on fourth down on a fake punt, only to have it called back due to an ‘ineligible man downfield’ penalty.

In total, they surrendered almost 80 yards in penalties.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule entered the season on what most figured to be a ‘hot seat,’ and with the team now 1-3 on the season, change could be looming if things don’t turn around quickly.

Unfortunately for Carolina, the schedule won’t do it any favors over the next few weeks, beginning with a Week 5 matchup in Charlotte with the San Francisco 49ers. Following that game, the Panthers will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams before coming back home to host Tampa Bay.

It’s also worth noting that Sunday’s game against Arizona was recognized as the ‘Keep Pounding Game,’ in honor of the late Sam Mills.

Mills spent the final three seasons of his NFL career with the Panthers before remaining with the franchise as a coach, where he coined the Keep Pounding mantra during his battle with intestinal cancer.

Mills was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2022 class, and in his honor, the franchise’s original logo and wordart was painted at midfield and in the end zones on Sunday.

Related: Panthers beat Saints for first win of season thanks to strong defensive performance