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Cam Newton: Panthers' offense let down our defense

The Carolina Panthers barely needed an offense Thursday night to beat the Baltimore Ravens 34-27. It's a good thing, because the offense never showed up.

The Panthers, fueled by four returns for touchdowns, did it all without Cam Newton's help.

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"When the defense plays like that, I feel like we let those guys down," Newton told reporters, per The Charlotte Observer.

The Panthers, in their 18-year history, never has scored two defensive touchdowns in a regular-season game, but they rifled off three against the Ravens in this odd preseason affair. Cornerbacks Drayton Florence and D.J. Moore returned picks for scores, and Thomas Davis rolled into the end zone on a fumble recovery. Ted Ginn's 74-yard punt return started it all off in the first quarter.

The Panthers, at one point, held a 21-7 lead with 25 passing yards and just 13 yards on the ground. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was a revelation, and he's surrounded by young talent on defense. Rookie tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short bolstered a potentially nasty front seven, but the Newton-led offense has been stuck in the mud.

Offensive coordinator Mike Shula's attack is without personality. Over three quarters Thursday -- about as long as the starters played -- the Ravens outgained the Panthers 290 yards to 104 and nearly doubled Carolina in snaps.

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"When you score (four) touchdowns on defense and special teams, the offense doesn't get back out there. The opportunities are limited," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "Now having said that, (3.5) yards on average (per) offensive play is not good enough. Not in this league, if we expect to win football games. We cannot accept that."

Newton gives the Panthers as potent a talent on offense as Kuechly is on defense, but the quarterback hasn't played well in the preseason. Maybe Shula planned to dish out heaping bowls of vanilla ice cream in August, but he's never been known for innovation. Not unlike Brian Schottenheimer with the St. Louis Rams, there's reason to wonder if Shula doesn't know what to do with the ingredients he's been given.

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