CHARLOTTE—Tennessee running back Chris Johnson had his best effort of the season, rushing for a season-high 130 yards and a touchdown and catching four passes for 44 yards in leading the Tennessee Titans to a 30-3 rout of the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.
After a three-and-out by the Panthers (2-7), the Titans (5-4) scored the first time they touched the ball and never looked back. Marc Mariani ran a punt up the sideline for a 56-yard touchdown 64 seconds into the game and the rout was on.
Cam Newton, who had an MRI on his throwing shoulder earlier in the week but was declared fit to play, drove the Panthers to the Tennessee 17-yard line before former Panthers linebacker Will Witherspoon forced tight end Greg Olsen to fumble.
Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck then completed passes for 18 and 29 yards before hitting Damian Williams for a 43-yard touchdown pass and a 14-0 lead on the Titans' sixth offensive play of the game.
Hasselbeck went 15 for 27 for 219 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Williams topped 100 yards receiving for the first time in his career, finishing with 107 yards on five catches.
Panthers defensive backs Sherrod Martin and Darius Butler both missed tackles on Williams' touchdown reception, and Carolina was plagued by sloppy defensive play throughout. Defensive backs Jordan Pugh and Chris Gamble were called for coverage penalties on back-to-back plays, leading to a Rob Bironas field goal in the second quarter.
The Carolina offense had just as much trouble. While Newton was pronounced healthy and showed no signs of injury, he was ineffective. Carolina got five first downs on the drive that ended in the fumble, then moved the chains just three more times in the next two and a half quarters.
Newton finished 22 of 39 for 209 yards and an interception. He also led the team in rushing with 8 carries for 61 yards.
Just before the half, tight end Greg Olsen dropped a deep pass, forcing a 50-yard field goal attempt that kicker Olindo Mare missed. He also missed a kick that would have sent the Minnesota game to overtime two weeks ago, giving Mare his second streak of two-straight misses this season.
The Tennessee defense sacked the mobile Newton five times on the day.
Game Notes: Titans running back Chris Johnson passed 5,000 yards for his career, joining Earl Campbell and Eddie George as the only Oilers/Titans to reach that mark. ... Bironas made three field-goal attempts, extending his streak of consecutive field goals made to 13, tied for seventh-longest streak in team history. Bironas already holds three of the four longest streaks. ... Panthers tight end Jeremy Shockey caught his first pass of the game in the fourth quarter. He has never been held without a catch in his 130-game NFL career, the second-longest active streak by a tight end behind Tony Gonzalez's 171. ... Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith had five catches, giving him 51 on the year. He had 46 to lead the team last season. ... The Panthers gave up their third punt-return touchdown of the season, and punter Jason Baker has given up 11 in his career, most in the NFL.