Prior to kickoff of Sunday’s game, a voice piped over the speakers in the press box foretelling an “aimless path” for the loser of the day’s matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the Tennessee Titans. With only four wins between the two teams, that was a very gentle way of describing forgettable seasons for both franchises. The squads traded punts before the Titans put together a 91-yard drive that ate up almost ten minutes of game clock and culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry. Rookie quarterback Will Levis was a perfect 7-of-7 for 80 yards on the drive. Carolina answered with a promising drive of their own, complete with an impressive fourth down conversion on a 13 yard pass from Bryce Young to tight end Stephen Sullivan. Ian Thomas was flagged for holding on the very next play nearly negating the previous gain. The Panthers would end up settling for a 50-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro to draw within four points.
On Carolina’s next offensive possession, Young was strip sacked by Arden Key at the 17-yard line and the ball was recovered by Jeffery Simmons and advanced to the 15-yard line. Two plays later, Henry rumbled in from 10 yards out for his second score of the game. Down 14-3, the Panthers were forced to punt on their next two possessions and the Titans got the ball back with under 30 seconds left in the first half. That was enough time to tack on a few more points with a 53-yard field goal by Nick Folk to go into halftime up 17-3.
The Panthers came out of the intermission with new life, driving down 67 yards and finally hitting pay dirt with a 5-yard touchdown carry by Chuba Hubbard on the first possession. For much of the second half, the same issue of self-inflicted wounds reared its ugly head as a number of big plays on offense were rendered pointless with holding penalties on the ensuing plays – moving the Panthers back ten yards each time. Still, the game was in reach in the fourth quarter as the Titans failed to score as well. The defense kept Tennessee out of field goal position and the Panthers got the ball with 2:57 to play and a chance to tie the game. Young was sacked for a loss on second down and Hubbard was able to make up a portion on the next play but it still brought up fourth down. Chark was brought down short of the sticks and the comeback bid ended. With the Panthers using all of their timeouts on the Titans’ previous drive, a Tennessee victory formation sent Carolina to its tenth loss on the season. Young finished 18-of-31 for 194 yards while being sacked four times. Levis threw for 185 yards on 18-of-28 passing.