Panthers Get Run Over

<P>Young teams are supposed to get better over the course of a season, this one is getting worse. The Panthers were taken behind the proverbial "woodshed and spanked" in the words of Mike Rucker, getting hammered by the Rams 48-14.

It was never close. Less than 2 minutes into the game, the Rams got a 71-yard touchdown run from Marshall Faulk. With Matt Lytle getting his first NFL playing time (forget the fact it was also a start), the offense was ineffective at moving the ball at all.

But, the defense was barely helping. Despite the fact they pulled down three interceptions, they did nothing to stop the Rams running attack at all. Faulk, for instance, ran form 143 yards and one touchdown…in the FIRST QUARTER!!! He finished the day with 183 yards on 15 carries. Heck, Trung Canidate came within one yard of outgaining the Panthers himself, as he rushed for 145. The Panthers, as a whole, gained only 146.

You want domination? How about the first half numbers. It was 31-7 at the half, the only Panthers score coming on a Steve Smith 99-yard kickoff return. The Rams had 329 yards in total offense, the Panthers 42 and 0…that's right, 0 first downs.

Offensively, Matt Lytle settled down some in the second half, hitting 9 of 14 passes for 94 yards and one touchdown. He did throw an interception that was run back for a touchdown by Aeneas Williams. Muhsin Muhammad had his best day in a while, catching 6 passes for 75 yards, but the running game was non-existent, Nick Goings leading the way with 13 yards on 9 carries.

The horrid defense was the story of the day, the Rams (known for their passing game) gained an incredible 337 yards on the ground. The NFL record, by the way, is 426 by the 1934 Detroit Lions against Pittsburgh. But, it was 111 more than the previous high given up by the Panthers (to San Francisco in 1998). The 48-14 loss was the second-worst in team history, falling behind the Christmas Eve loss at Oakland last year, 52-9.

Bottom line, this Panther team has now lost a club-record 8 in a row, and has every look of a team that is packing it in.

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