The Panthers’ 34-27 preseason win over Baltimore was remarkable when you look at the stats. Carolina was outgained 357-173 and had the ball 11 ½ minutes less than Baltimore.
But those weren’t the weirdest numbers to come out of this bizarre game. Here are the five I thought were among the most unusual:
1. The Panthers scored 28 points on returns of various types (three defensive TDs and a 74-yard punt return by Ted Ginn Jr. on the first kick return he has ever tried in a Panther uniform). As Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh cracked about his own squad: “The pass game was good -- except we threw it to the other guys.” You can go a decade without seeing 4 return TDs in a single pro football game.
2. The Panthers didn’t run a single play inside Baltimore’s 20 all night. You can’t exactly say they had a red zone problem, because they were never even in the red zone. And yet they scored 34 points. As center Ryan Kalil and tight end Greg Olsen both said, the first-team offense’s performance was so disappointing it felt more like a loss than a win.
3. Baltimore had 27 first downs. Carolina only had 14.
4. At halftime, Carolina had five first downs, Baltimore had 13, and the Panthers led 24-7.
5. The Panthers were terrible on penalties, getting called for 12 for 133 yards (Baltimore was 9 for 90). And Armond Smith got kicked out of the game for kicking a Baltimore player after a run. And Carolina still won – more because Luke Kuechly had one of the most astonishing halves of football I’ve ever seen from a defensive player than anything else.