Panthers fall for cardinals, 26-16

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers did everything they could, defensively.

Offensively they had a hard time again.

The Panthers lost 26-16 to the Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, a rough performance for a foul that didn’t look particularly cohesive in the first three games.

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

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

Mayfield’s first four games were rough overall, with some moments of clarity, but no consistent themes. He got a few passes in a row hot from DJ Moore (more engaged, which helped) and found Christian McCaffrey with a few passes late, including a touchdown. But again, Mayfield had balls knocked out in the line of scrimmage.

And while they could rely on McCaffrey in recent weeks (he had two consecutive 100-yard rushing games), he only had eight carries on the day (for 27 yards).

It’s a chicken-and-egg problem because until they can extend the drives they can’t establish the run, and the passing game can’t now.

— Again, linebacker Frankie Luvu was everywhere and he had the biggest score of the day.

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

Last week, he created the first turnover of the season by pulling out a fumble that killed Marquis Haynes Sr. came back for a touchdown, triggering a three-turnout blowout that led to a win over the Saints.

There was no follow-up on Sunday.

Luvu plays incredibly well, but his frustration only started to show late in the game when he was flagged for needless roughness for knocking James Conner back 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 a mix-and-match defense for most of the day after, with Sean Chandler bringing in on points for Chinn but using other staff groups to make up for dynamic safety.

Without knowing the specific coverage it’s hard to blame with any degree of accuracy at this point, but Chandler was tight behind Zach Ertz on the tying touchdown in the third quarter.

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

— Eddy Pineiro scored a 54-yard field goal just before half-time, keeping the new kicker perfect in the season so far.

He came into the game with a clean 7-of-7 on field goals, having replaced the injured Zane Gonzalez just before the start of the regular season.

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