Running back Darren McFadden checks on quarterback Carson Palmer after he was hit and knocked out of the game in the first quarter. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
With Carson Palmer this season, the Raiders’ offense was inconsistent.
Without him on Sunday, the offense was virtually nonexistent.
Palmer was knocked out of the game in the first quarter and couldn’t return and the Raiders dropped a 17-6 decision to the Panthers in Carolina to fall to 4-11 this season.
Palmer, who early in the game passed the 4,000-yard passing mark this season – becoming just the second Oakland QB ever to surpass that total – was hit hard in the back by Carolina’s Greg Hardy as he rolled to his right looking to pass. The hit put Palmer on the turf for several minutes, and resulted in Hardy being penalized for unnecessary roughness for leading with his helmet on the hit.
The Raiders announced Palmer’s ribs were injured.
Oakland turned to quarterback Matt Leinart, who doesn’t have Palmer’s arm strength and obviously was rusty.
Leinart hardly challenged the Panthers’ defense downfield, keeping most of his passes short, and completed just 16-of-32 attempts for 115 yards and was intercepted, leading to the Panthers’ second touchdown of the game and a 14-3 lead at halftime.
The team’s running game – which looked good last week in a 15-0 win over Kansas City – couldn’t pick up the slack. The Raiders rushed for just 47 net yards, with Darren McFadden getting only 33 on 17 carries.
The Raiders’ offense could gain just 189 total yards and two Sebastian Janikowski field goals. The Raiders – who got five field goals in last week’s win over the Chiefs (that snapped a six-game losing streak) – have not scored an offensive touchdown since the fourth quarter of their second loss to the Broncos this season, on Dec. 6. The Raiders have scored just 61 points in their last five games.
Raiders fans did get a chance to see No. 3 quarterback Terrelle Pryor get into the game in the team’s wildcat formation, hitting his only pass for 5 yards and running once for 2 yards.
Oakland’s defense, meanwhile, was fairly strong in bottling up dangerous quarterback Cam Newton and giving up just 17 points.
Newton, who’d put together five strong games in a row, hit 18-of-29 throws for 170 yards and one touchdown – a 23-yard strike to Steve Smith in the first quarter to put Carolina on top for good – and rushed for 60 yards and a TD on 12 carries. And the Raiders held the Panthers to just 271 total net yards. But the Oakland offense couldn't come up with enough points to support the defensive effort.
The third straight win for the 6-9 Panthers is their longest streak since 2009.
The Raiders will finish out their season next Sunday with a game in San Diego against the Chargers. It’s uncertain whether Palmer will be able to play in the season finale.