Panthers Flagged in Loss to 49ers

<P>For the third straight week, the Panthers have given one away in the second. To their credit, they've found a different way to lose each time. This time, it was penalties at crucial times, 95 yards worth.

At Atlanta two weeks ago, the Panthers and Falcons were tied at the half, but a number of defensive brain locks and red zone offensive failures cost them the game. Last week, they survived missed opportunities in the first half to take a 7-6 lead over Green Bay in at the half, but back-to-back fumbles on kickoff returns gave the Packers the opening they needed to hand Carolina their second straight loss.

This week, they pulled into a tie late in the first half, and then (with some questionable coaching) called enough timeouts to give the 49ers an opportunity to kick a half-ending field goal. The Panthers trailled 10-7 at the half, but had given themselves little opportunity for success offensively, committing penalty after penalty, many of them on first down that stopped the offense before it had a chance to get going.

After they opened the second half with a Doug Evans interception return for a touchdown, the defense failled to stop the Niners and the offense shut down, Chris Weinke throwing two of his three interceptions in the second half. San Francisco beat the George Seifert-led Panthers for the first time, 24-14.

Penalties were the big momenteum-killer for the Panthers, as they committed 8 of them for 95 yards. Often, they came on plays that had resulted in positive yards (often, big chunks of positive yards).

The Panthers continue to show the inconsistency of youth, each week, finding a different way to lose. This week, Chris Weinke looked the worst he has his year, hitting just 29-47 for 275 yards and three picks.

Things won't be an easier this coming week, as New Orleans comes to Ericsson Stadium. The Saints' defense man-handled the Panthers a year ago. Maybe, instead of finding a way to lose, they can duplicate their opening week performance in Minnesota, and find a way to win.

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