By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, December 23rd, 2012 at 12:59 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders can’t catch a break, nor are they good enough to make their own.
That much was evident Sunday in a 17-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium, a game that was destined to be a struggle the moment Carson Palmer left the game for good with 1:57 left in the first quarter.
Hit from behind by Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy, who was called for roughing the passer, Palmer did not suffer broken ribs, according to X-rays, but he was in too much pain to continue.
Palmer gave way to Matt Leinart, who struggled with timing and rhythm after sitting the bench all season. The Raiders managed only 21-yard and 31-yard field goals by Sebastian Janikowski in falling to 4-11 before a crowd of 73,026.
Carolina (6-9), in its regular-season home finale, got a 23-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Steve Smith and a 3-yard from Newton in what was a fairly stout game by the Oakland defense.
Graham Gano kicked a 51-yard field goal with 2:46 remaining to put the game away for the Panthers.
Newton completed 18 of 29 passes for 170 yards and rushed 12 times for 60 yards. Leinart was 16 for 31 for 115 yards and an interception.
The Raiders had reason to be frustrated about the way things went down in losing their 10th consecutive game in an eastern time zone.
On Newton’s touchdown pass to Smith, Carolina tackle Byron Bell appeared to be holding Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston. No flag was thrown.
In the second quarter, a Carolina drive was extended when Tommy Kelly was called for unnecessary roughness after scuffling with Newton. Newton had initiated the altercation by kicking Kelly after the sack.
Later in the same drive, linebacker Miles Burris was called for unnecessary roughness on what appeared to be a hard, clean hit on tight end Greg Olson.
The Raiders got a break when Graham Gano missed a 48-yard field goal attempt, but Oakland gave the ball right back two plays later when Leinart was intercepted by linebacker Luke Kuechly. That initiated a 29-yard drive which resulted in Newton’s touchdown run.
Two times in the third quarter the Raiders forced turnovers in Carolina territory and managed only six points.
A forced fumble by Chimdi Chekwa was recovered by Richard Gordon at the 32-yard line, but the Raiders worked quickly backward to the 42 before Shane Lechler was forced to punt.
The Raiders were forced out of field goal range when Jared Veldheer was called for holding on third-and-10, forcing the ball to the 43, and a Leinart pass to Brandon Myers gained a single yard.
On the final play of the third quarter, Philip Wheeler deflected a Newton pass to set up Oakland at the Carolina 18.
The Raiders had first-and-goal at the 8 after a Charles Godfrey penalty against Rod Streater for a head-high shot on third-and-9.
Terrelle Pryor, inserted on three occasions with Leinart split wide, tossed a 5-yard pass to Marcel Reece to the 3. McFadden trotted into the end zone for an apparent touchdown, but it was called back on a holding penalty by Stefen Wisniewski.
Janikowski eventually connected from 31 yards.
Finally, after Leinart drove the Raiders to the 24-yard line, a Rod Streater narrowly missed a leaping grab at the 5-yard line on third-and-4, failing to bring the ball all the way to the ground against the defense of James Dockery and D.J. Campbell.
On fourth down, Leinart couldn’t find his first read to his left, attempted to throw a screen to his right to Darren McFadden, and Hardy batted the ball down to end the threat.
The Raiders finish the season in San Diego on Dec. 30.