The once-promising Redskins did not have a lead against Carolina and fell to 3-3. Washington — which suffered its third defeat in the last four games — couldn’t find a way to slow the Panthers or match their offensive firepower.
Carolina rookie quarterback Cam Newton — the first overall pick in last April’s draft — embarrassed Washington with his arm and his legs. He completed 18 of 23 attempts for 256 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Newton’s Panthers racked up 407 yards (175 on the ground) and improved to 2-5.
Beck — who hadn’t started a regular season game since his rookie year — completed 22 of 37 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown to Fred Davis. He threw an interception and lost a fumble. The Redskins recorded 353 yards of offense, 92 on the ground.
“I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys ready to play,” a disheveled Shanahan said at the lectern after the game. “We should’ve played better than that. But I take my hat off to Cam Newton. He did some things with his legs and made some throws that not even [seasoned] pros make.”
Even when fully healthy, Washington’s offense has struggled to execute consistently and to put points on the board. But the Redskins’ efforts were hampered against the Panthers from the start by the absence of injured offensive starters — tight end Chris Cooley, guard Kory Lichtensteiger and left tackle Trent Williams.
Then the Redskins lost leading wide receiver Santana Moss to a left hand injury late in the first quarter of Sunday’s defeat. And in the third quarter, they lost starting running back Tim Hightower, who was having a strong game with 17 carries for 88 yards, to a left knee injury. The Redskins didn’t know the severity of Hightower’s injury Sunday evening, but he was on crutches and wore a large brace in the locker room. He was scheduled to have an MRI exam on Monday.
On defense, where Washington already was without starting free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, the Redskins lost inside linebacker London Fletcher with what the team said was a hamstring injury. One player speaking on condition of anonymity said Fletcher was suffering from a stomach virus and threw up on the sideline.
Along with the injuries, a late first-half turnover and failed third-quarter gamble served as the lowlights of Washington’s loss. The first came in the waning seconds of the second quarter.
After tying the score at 6 on a 49-yard Graham Gano field goal with 1 minute 2 seconds left, the Redskins got a stop from their defense and took possession with 46 seconds remaining in the half.