The Panthers (2-7) came in averaging 415 yards and more than 23 points per game behind a big-play offense, but Tennessee's defense completely took away their downfield passing game — and just about everything else.
At times Newton rolled out in the pocket and couldn't find anyone to throw the ball to.
"The thing is, Cam has the ability to extend plays, then slingshot one down the field 50 or 60 yards," said Titans safety Jonathan Babineaux. "We knew coming into the game they had some down-the-field threats, and we couldn't let No. 1 get comfortable. We did a good job of harassing him and making sure he didn't have time to get back on his feet and make accurate throws."
Tennessee also got a big play from Marc Mariani, who returned Jason Baker's punt 79 yards for a 7-0 lead just 64 seconds into the game. It was the third long punt return for a touchdown allowed by the Panthers this season and the 11th against Baker, the most of any active punter in the NFL.
Tennessee quickly made it 14-0 on its first possession when Damian Williams turned a short pass from Hasselbeck into a 43-yard scoring play after defensive backs Sherrod Martin and Darius Butler missed tackles. Williams finished with 107 yards receiving.
Hasselbeck was 15 of 27 for 219 yards with his only mistake, a third-quarter interception, leading to a Carolina field goal. Even then, the Tennessee defense held after the Panthers took over deep in Titans territory.
Five of Carolina's eight first-half drives ended in three-and-outs and two others were halted by costly mistakes by tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen fumbled in the red zone early on then dropped an easy 16-yard reception late in the first half that would have made for a short field goal attempt by Olindo Mare. Instead, Mare missed the ensuing 50-yard kick on the final play of the first half, and the Titans took a 17-0 lead into the locker room.
"We didn't do anything right," Olsen said. "There isn't one thing that we can hang our hat on. It was just an overall pathetic effort by us."
NOTES: Rob Bironas' 38-yard field goal in the second quarter was the 200th of his career. ... Chris Gamble's third-quarter interception was the 26th of his career, giving him the Panthers all-time franchise record. ... The Panthers are 4-21 over their last 25 games. ... Newton said after the game that his shoulder did not affect this play. Newton had an MRI on his right shoulder Friday, but it revealed no damage.
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