CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers are determined to not allow another lopsided midseason loss to send their season spiraling.
The Panthers (4-3) enter Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans coming off a brutal 51-13 loss last Sunday at San Francisco, a game that Carolina players said going in would be a good measuring stick for them.
The loss was reminiscent of Carolina’s 52-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last season that was the start of a seven-game losing streak. The Panthers had entered that game 6-2 but finished the season 7-9 and failed to qualify for the playoffs.
“It’s a totally new season and a totally different locker room,” said Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen . “Yeah the games are similar, but it’s different people. We don’t need to look back at last year. We just need to stick with this year. We need to learn from this game and not let this game skid us on a losing streak.”
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen addressed the team after the 49ers game and talked about putting words into action and learning from last year.
Coach Ron Rivera reiterated that message this week.
“There are a lot of things we talked about from the game in our meetings,” Rivera said. “A lot of examples that were shown on the tape, some things that we need to correct. And we’ve moved on. From that point, the focus has been Tennessee.”
Carolina faces a Tennessee team that has won two straight to get back to .500 under quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
This game features a pair of running backs wearing No. 22 with Christian McCaffrey for the Panthers and Derrick Henry for Tennessee (4-4).
McCaffrey has 1,078 yards from scrimmage this season, the ninth most in NFL history through the first seven games of a season. He’s also averaging 154 yards from scrimmage, and he has 10 total TDs that are the second-most by any player this season. Since Week 14 of last season, Henry leads the NFL with 973 yards rushing, and he ran for 75 yards last week against a Tampa Bay defense that had been the league’s best against the run.
The 49ers exploited Carolina’s run defense last week, piling up 232 yards on the ground with four touchdowns largely because Panthers defenders struggled with gap control. That means Henry has the potential for a big game.
ALLEN STILL IN CHARGE
Allen will make his sixth straight start for the Panthers at quarterback while Cam Newton continues to rehab from a mid-foot sprain. Allen is 4-1 but coming off his first loss against the 49ers, a game in which he threw three interceptions and looked rattled in the pocket.
Allen said after watching the game on tape he “knew better” than to throw the ball down the field as much against the league’s No. 1 pass defense. He said he should have taken advantage of the check-down passes available.
BATTLE OF BACKUPS
Tannehill will be starting his third straight game for Tennessee after the Titans benched Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 pick of the 2015 draft. Tannehill is in his eighth season, and he has thrown for 505 yards with five touchdowns and only one interception with a 115.3 passer rating since taking over. That puts him just two touchdown passes shy of what Mariota managed in six starts this season. Tannehill also has driven the Titans for a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of each of his starts.
STINGY TITANS D
The Titans have allowed more than 20 points only once this season, and that came last week in their 27-23 win over Tampa Bay . The Bucs had been the NFL’s fourth-best scoring offense, and the Titans held them below their 28.8-point scoring average. That bumped up Tennessee’s scoring average to 16.9 points allowed per game, still fourth-stingiest in the NFL. The Titans also rank ninth with 22 sacks, and they have forced turnovers inside the final 30 seconds of each of their past two victories.
Titans safety Kevin Byard says it’s nice to win consecutive games with late defensive stands or takeaways. “As a defense, we want to play better,” Byard said.
SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE
The Titans have won six straight games vs. NFC teams and second-year coach Mike Vrabel has yet to lose to an NFC team. On the flip side, Panthers coach Ron Rivera has a 9-1 record against AFC South teams.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL