Washington Redskins quarterback John Beck nearly had a mistake free debut for the 2011 NFL regular season, until he threw his first and only interception of the afternoon. With 3:13 left in the contest against the Carolina Panthers (2-5) while attempting a last comeback, Beck’s pass was picked off by Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble to help seal a 33-20 victory in Charlotte, N.C.
“I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys ready to play,” said the disbelieved Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan after the game. “We should’ve played better than that. But I take my hat off to Cam Newton (Panthers rookie quarterback). He did some things with his legs and made some throws that not even (seasoned) pros make.”
From the start of the game, the Redskins (3-3) witnessed Newton’s wizardry out the gate. On 3rd-and-9 on the Panthers’ 21, Newton scrambled for about 20 yards, vertically, ducking and dodging Redskins defenders before gaining 25 yards, getting to the 46-yard line.
From that point on throughout the first two quarters, both the Redskins and Panthers defenses were playing shut down football as they sent the contest to 9-6 Carolina lead at the half.
After exchanging blows, defensively, during the first half, the Redskins decided to challenge 16th-ranked defense on 4th-and-2 at the Panthers’ 40.
However, Panthers linebacker James Anderson had a different plan in mind as he challenged the Redskins’ challenge and sacked Beck for a 7 yard loss, forcing a turnover-on-downs.
“I don’t care if you go for it on the 40-yard line or you punt it and punt it to the 20,” said Shanahan. “Sometimes you do things to put yourself in field goal range or for a touchdown. But you don’t go (57) yards in two plays. We’re better than that.”
Newton and the Panthers countered the Redskins’ blows as the rookie quarterback went deep down the left side of the field to wide receiver Brandon Lafell for a 37-yard pickup and finished the two-play drive with a 16-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers extended their lead to 16-6, and never looked back.
Newton finished with 256 passing yards after completing 18 out of 23 passes and two touchdowns (one rushing) without throwing an interception.
“Cam was out there and did a phenomenal job,” said Redskins safety LaRon Landry. “He found all the holes in the defense.”
Nevertheless, in defeat, Beck had a solid performance as he delivered timely passes and oftentimes escaped the pressure of the Panthers’ defensive ends in Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson.
With the game in reach, the Redskins showed their commitment to their running game as running back Tim Hightower carried the load for the backfield. Unfortunately, Hightower left the game due to an injury with 10:54 left in the third quarter, and confidently, the Redskins leaned on their passing game.
Hightower finished the game with 88 yards on 17 carries.
Beck made great decisions down the stretch, and with a couple of misses here and there, the 30-year-old signal-caller made things happen with his legs as well to help keep the game close.
With a 16-6 Panthers’ lead, on 3rd-and-4 at Carolina 4, Beck avoided the rush and scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown run to make it a 13-16 contest midway through the third quarter.
After 14 unanswered points by the Panthers, consisting of long drives, and a 3-and-out for Washington, Beck and the Redskins could not recover in time.
Beck completed 22 out of 37 attempts for 279 yards, two touchdowns (one rushing) with an interception.
For a team that was sixth in the NFL for total defense, the Redskins’ defense was bullied as the Panthers pounded the ball 37 times for 175 yards, 59 from Newton. The Redskins gained 92 yards on the ground for 23 attempts.
Game Notes: Redskins vs. Panthers via Press Release
- Running back Tim Hightower finished the game with 88 yards on 17 carries before exiting the game with an injury in the third quarter. It was the seventh game in which Hightower has eclipsed 80 rushing yards in his career.
- Hightower’s 5.2 yards per carry were his most as a member of the Redskins and represent the 12th game in his career in which he has rushed for at least 5.0 yards per carry.
- Hightower rushed for 67 yards in the first quarter, surpassing his previous first-quarter career high of 64, set Nov. 22, 2009 at St. Louis.
- In his first start as a member of the Redskins, quarterback John Beck completed 22-of-37 passes for a career-high 279 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Beck also rushed for 10 yards and a touchdown.
- Beck’s passer rating of 80.8 was the second-highest of his career. His career-high is 96.3, set on Dec. 30, 2007 vs. Cincinnati while playing with the Miami Dolphins.
- Beck’s rushing touchdown was his second of the season and third of his career. With his touchdown run against Philadelphia last week, this marks the first time Beck has posted rushing touchdowns in back-to-back games.
- Beck’s touchdown pass was the second of his career and his first since Dec. 30, 2007 vs. Cincinnati.
- Tight end Fred Davis led the team in receptions (six), receiving yards (80) and touchdowns (one).
- Davis finished a game with 80 receiving yards for the fourth time in his career, with all four games coming in the first seven weeks of the 2011 season.
- Davis is the first Redskins tight end to have four games with 80-plus receiving yards in a season since Chris Cooley posted five games of 80-plus yards in 2007.
- Davis’ 22-yard reception in the third quarter was his ninth reception of 20-plus yards this season.
- Tight end Logan Paulsen set career highs in receptions (two) and receiving yardage (48). On the Redskins’ third-quarter touchdown drive, Paulsen had two receptions of 24 yards each, both career longs.
- Wide receiver Niles Paul registered his first career start and had his first NFL reception in the fourth quarter. Paul finished the game with two receptions for 25 yards.
- Wide receiver Terrence Austin posted a career-high three receptions. He finished the game with 26 receiving yards.
- Wide receiver Jabar Gaffney posted a season-high 68 receiving yards.
- The Redskins amassed four sacks, all coming in the first half. The four first-half sacks were tied for second-most in a first half in team history. The team record is five, set vs. Atlanta on Sept. 25, 1994.
- Defensive end Adam Carriker and safety LaRon Landry split a sack of Carolina QB Cam Newton in the first quarter. Landry’s half-sack was his first sack registered since Sept. 19, 2010 in a Week 2 game against Houston.
- Carriker finished the game with 1.5 sacks, a single-game career high.
- Carriker improved upon his single-season career high and now has 4.5 sacks for the season.
Linebacker Brian Orakpo registered a first-half sack, giving him 4.5 for the season and 24 for his career.
Three of kicker Graham Gano’s five kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Gano entered the game fourth in the NFL and first in the NFC in touchback percentage.
- The Redskins held their opponent to zero punt return yards for the second consecutive game. Redskins’ opponents now have a total of one punt return yard against the Redskins in Washington’s last three games.
- Punter Sav Rocca now has 26 punts on the season with zero touchbacks. Rocca is one of three NFL punters with 25 or more punts to have zero touchbacks, as of the conclusion of Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET games.
- The Redskins held the Panthers to a field goal on Carolina’s opening drive. The Redskins entered the game as one of eight teams in the league yet to surrender an opening-drive touchdown to an opponent.
- The Redskins converted 5-of-12 third downs (42 percent), a single-game percentage second only this season to the team’s 50 percent conversion rate in Week 4 against St. Louis. The game marked the sixth time the Redskins have posted a third down conversion rate of 40 percent or better in the Mike Shanahan era.