The conditioned response when hearing about a dominant NFL defense is to think of the Baltimore Ravens, but on Thursday night it was the Carolina Panthers that flexed their muscles on the back of a dominant performance from Luke Kuechly. Turnovers decided the battle as Carolina generated three defensive touchdowns to finish with a decisive 34-17 victory.
Kuechly was the star of the show, channeling his inner Ray Lewis at M&T Bank Stadium. The second-year linebacker finished with 7 tackles, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble -- which resulted in a Thomas Davis recovery for a touchdown. The Panthers led 27-17 at halftime on the strength of their defense and a Ted Ginn punt return.
The Ravens were able to generate offense, but kept derailing their drives with turnovers. The team gained 357 total yards, but Joe Flacco threw two interceptions and Tyrod Taylor added a third. Wide receiver Marlon Brown was a surprising offensive standout for Baltimore. The rookie receiver caught four passes for 59 yards, including a touchdown.
As proud as the Panthers should be of their defense, the team should be equally concerned with its lack of offense. Carolina gained just 173 total yards, while Cam Newton struggled throwing the ball accurately. Part of the problem lies with a porous offensive line, but he still finished with just 99 yards passing on 19 attempts -- well short of his career average.
The third preseason game is designed to be an example of a team's regular season ability. Thursday's game was defined by Carolina's defense, and Baltimore's need to play more conservative football. The Ravens can definitely do better in this regard, and it remains to be seen whether the Panthers can keep up a turnover-generating defense.
The Carolina Panthers lost several players due to injury:
- Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn left with an apparent hand injury.
- Left guard Amimi Silatolu left the game with a leg injury.
- Wide receiver and special teams player Kealoha Pilares left with a led injury.
- Running back Kenjon Barner left with a foot injury.
The Baltimore Ravens had one injury:
- Quarterback Tyrod Taylor left the game with an apparent head injury.
There is no update on the severity of the injuries at this time.
Did they cover?
The Baltimore Ravens opened as 3-point favorites according to OddsShark, and failed to cover with a loss.
The Carolina Panthers return home to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 29, 7:30 p.m.
The Batlimore Ravens visit the St. Louis Rams on August 29, 8 p.m.