Newton, starters look sharp as Panthers lose to Ravens

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Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin made a catch, took a hit and felt good about it coming off a lost season.

Cam Newton directed a 68-yard drive in his only series, then stepped aside - for the most part - as the Carolina Panthers lost to the Baltimore Ravens 22-19 on Thursday night in a preseason opener.

Newton, the reigning NFL MVP, went 5 for 6 for 36 yards before being replaced by 33-year-old Derek Anderson.

Graham Gano kicked four field goals for the Panthers, who went 15-1 last year and won the NFC championship before falling to Denver in the Super Bowl.

Baltimore was without quarterback Joe Flacco, who's coming off a season-ending knee injury. Running back Justin Forsett; wide receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman; and linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil were also held out of the game.



The Panthers launched their preseason with a crisp 14-play march overseen by Newton, who opted not to employ the running aspect of his game.

Working out of the no-huddle offense, Newton completed his first five passes before overthrowing an open Ted Ginn Jr. in the back of the end zone. That forced Carolina to settle for a field goal.



He did not, however, spend the rest of the night on the sideline.

Newton was flagged for going on the field while linebacker A.J. Klein was taking an interception back 95 yards for a touchdown. The score was nullified, but the Panthers ultimately got into the end zone anyway.



"I just got too excited," Newton said sheepishly. "I was hoping they would give a warning. It's no big deal."



Anderson threw a TD pass to Devin Funchess for a 10-0 lead before the Ravens answered with touchdowns by Terrance West and Javorius Allen.

Ryan Mallett, who started the final two games for Baltimore last year, got the call in this one, too. He played the entire first half, going 11 for 15 for 91 yards and a score.

PHELPS ON THE BIG SCREEN

During a break in the fourth quarter, footage of Olympic star Michael Phelps winning a gold medal in the 200-meter IM was shown on the scoreboard. The crowd cheered as Phelps, a Baltimore native, reached the finish line.

HOT STUFF

Temperature at game time was 94 degrees, with a heat index of 102 degrees.

ROOKIE WATCH

Panthers: First-round selection Vernon Butler, a defensive lineman out of Louisiana Tech, was credited with two tackles.

Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, the sixth overall pick in the draft, played left tackle with the first-team offense.

POSITION BATTLES

Panthers: Cameron Artis-Payne, Fozzy Whitaker and Brandon Wegher did little to separate themselves in the battle for the backup running back spot. Artis-Payne gained 10 yards on five carries, Wegher rushed for 13 yards on 10 attempts and Whittaker had no yardage on three carries.

Ravens: RBs West (25 yards, 2 TDs), Allen (6 yards rushing, 19-yard TD catch) and Ken Dixon (44 yards rushing) all looked impressive in their bid to earn a backup job.

INJURY UPDATE

Panthers: WR Brenton Berson left with a rib injury. "It looks like a bruise," coach Ron Rivera said. Berson had five catches for 69 yards.

Ravens: LB Chris Carter left for concussion protocol, returned and shared a sack in the third quarter. ... CB Tavon Young left to have his left knee examined.

QUOTABLE

Panthers: "We came out and we executed," Newton said. "We've got to find ways to put the ball in the end zone."

Ravens: Coach John Harbaugh explained why Flacco didn't play: "I didn't think there was any reason to go with Joe tonight. In the big picture I don't think that's hard to understand. It makes sense. He'll go maybe next week, maybe he'll go the third game. We haven't decided that yet."

MISTAKE PRONE

Panthers: Carolina was penalized nine times for 80 yards, lost two fumbles and scored only one touchdown.

Ravens: Baltimore lost two fumbles, including a muffed punt by Kaelin Clay, and Mallett threw an interception. "If they don't happen it's not as close a game," Harbaugh said.

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