The first game of John Beck’s career as the Redskins starting quarterback ended with decent numbers for Beck, but a crushing 33-20 loss for Washington at the hands of the Carolina Panthers and rookie quarterback Cam Newton.
The Redskins began the fourth quarter trailing by 10 points, and the Panthers had the ball. They sustained what amounted to the game-clinching drive when Cam Newton converted a draw play on third and 4 into a seven-yard gain. After what looked to be a damaging holding call on the Panthers, Newton then made what might have been his best throw of the day, dropping a pass over cornerback Josh Wilson to waiting receiver Steve Smith, who made a tremendous catch at the 1.
Though the Redskins stopped running back James Stewart on first and second down, they couldn’t come up with Stewart’s fumble, and on the next play, Newton found slot receiver Brandon LaFell for the 2-yard touchdown that put Carolina up 30-13.
Redskins quarterback John Beck, though, tried to keep Washingotn in it. He led a 10-play drive, on which he went 7 of 10 for 80 yards, and finished it off with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Fred Davis – his first scoring pass as a Redskin. That only pulled the Redskins within 30-20 with five minutes left, and Washington couldn’t snag the ensuing onside kick.
Washington’s defense then came up with a three-and-out when it needed it, aided by a holding call on the Panthers. Beck got the ball at his own 12 with just one timeout remaining and 3:51 left in the game. On a second-and-15 play from the Washington 19, Beck rolled to his right and looked for rookie receiver Leonard Hankerson – who was active for the first time in his career – down the right sideline. But Hankerson continued deep when Beck expected him to come back. The ball was easily intercepted by Carolina cornerback Chris Gamble, and the Panthers’ victory was secure. Olindo Mare eventually came on for a 40-yard field goal that made it 33-20 with 1:56 left.
Beck finished the day 22 of 37 for 279 yards with one touchdown, one interception and one fumble. He also ran for a score. Newton, the top pick in this year’s draft, finished 18 of 23 for 256 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 61 yards and another score.
The Redskins, in first place alone before last week’s games, fell to 3-3. They play Buffalo in Toronto next Sunday. The Bills are coming off the bye week.
Third quarter: Panthers 23, Redskins 13
After exchanging only field goals in the first half, the Panthers and Redskins traded touchdowns in the third quarter. The Panthers carried a 23-13 lead into the final quarter, and the Redskins will have to battle back without their starting running back, Tim Hightower.
Hightower injured his knee on a 4-yard run early in the third quarter. He had to be helped off the field by teammates Donte Stallworth and Mike Sellers and was carted into the locker room. The Redskins were also without top receiver Santana Moss, who emerged from the locker room out of uniform and apparently is done for the day.
On their opening drive of the second half, the Redskins attempted to convert on fourth-and-2, but quarterback John Beck was sacked and Carolina took over on downs. The Panthers marched down the field, and Cam Newton scored on a 16-yard touchdown run, giving Carolina a 16-6 lead.
The Redskins answered on their next drive, as Beck ran in a touchdown of his own. Beck drove the offense 82 yards down the field in 4:02, scrambling for a four-yard touchdown that cut the Panthers’ lead to 16-13.
The Panthers pushed the Redskins’ defense back on their ensuing drive, which was capped by Jonathan Stewart’s 2-yard touchdown. Carolina carried a 23-13 lead into the final quarter.
Second quarter: Panthers 9, Redskins 6
A late Redskins turnover resulted in a Carolina field goal in the half’s closing seconds, and the Panthers carried a 9-6 lead into the locker room after two quarters of play.
Very little of the game has been pretty, but the Redskins’ and Panthers’ kickers have kept the game close, combining for five field goals so far. Graham Gano hit two in the second quarter to help Washington keep pace with Carolina.
The Redskins lost receiver Santana Moss -- at least temporarily -- to a hand injury early in the quarter. They’ve largely relied on their ground game. Tim Hightower has 78 yards on 15 carries.
Quarterback John Beck was 5-of-12 passing for 53 yards in the half.
Gano capped a 74-yard drive in the opening minutes of the second quarter with a 31-yard field goal that tied the game 3-3.
Later in the quarter, the Redskins were again on the move. But the 10-play drive stalled near the red zone when Beck was flagged for intentional grounding. Gano came out and hit the 49-yard field goal to tie the game at 6-apiece.
The Redskins got the ball back in the half’s final minute, and Beck hit Jabar Gaffney with a short pass over the middle. Gaffney fumbled the ball, though, and Carolina recovered, taking over on the Washington 34-yard line. Four plays later, Olindo Mare hit a 45-yard field with seven seconds remaining in the half to break the tie.
First quarter: Panthers 3, Redskins 0
The Panthers demonstrated an ability to move the ball with ease on the opening drive of the game, marching 78 yards in 13 plays. They fizzled in the red zone and had to settle for a field goal, but took a 3-0 lead after holding the ball for just more than seven minutes.
The biggest play of that drive came on a 25-yard run by QB Cam Newton. The rookie quarterback made Kevin Barnes miss twice in the backfield, then took off. London Fletcher missed him downfield, and so did DeAngelo Hall before Newton was run out of bounds.
Later on that drive, Fletcher redeemed himself. Newton went airborne while trying to cross the goal line, but Fletcher went airborne as well and crashed into the quarterback, denying him at the 2-yard line.
The Redskins’ offense started the game showing signs that they could move the ball as well, but after a near INT throw by Beck (which hit linebacker James Anderson in the hands), and then a false start penalty against Fred Davis, the drive came to an end when Antwan Applewhite beat Jammal Brown off the right edge and sacked Beck, forcing a fumble, and linebacker Terrell McClain recovered at the Washington 48.
The Redskins’ defense held, however, forcing a punt, and the offense was driving, having reached the Carolina 25 (thanks largely to three Panthers’ penalties on the drive) when the first quarter ended with the score still stuck at 3-0.
For the first quarter, Carolina out-gained Washington 90-76, but Washington had six first downs to Carolina’s four. Tim Hightower rushed for a career-best 67 yards in the first quarter.