Mayfield spent much of Sunday afternoon trying to avoid a variety of charging Ravens, and he wasn't often successful at it. Mayfield failed to get any help from the Panthers' running game, so he was forced to pass under duress for much of the game.
The statistics — and the final score — bear out his failure to make something of a difficult situation.
Mayfield threw two interceptions, was sacked three times and managed 196 yards passing in an ugly 13-3 defeat.
While with the Browns from 2018-21, Mayfield went 3-5 with nine interceptions against Baltimore.
This game provided him with an unwanted flashback to those dreary days in Cleveland.
Not only did the Panthers (3-8) manage only 205 yards and just 13 first downs, but they committed three turnovers and were penalized nine times for 66 yards. Standout receiver DJ Moore was targeted only five times and finished with just three catches for 24 yards.
“I felt like everything was there for us and we didn’t execute,” Mayfield said. "It’s tough, to be honest with you. I put my heart and soul in this, and this sucks. I just hope everybody else feels the same way. That’s how you get things turned around. You have to care about it. You do.
“I think everybody does care. We’ll go back and watch this tape and see what really hurt us. It’s the small things. It’s playing smart, no penalties.”
Carolina was coming off a 25-15 win over Atlanta that appeared to mark a resurgence under interim coach Steve Wilks. But this outing was a huge step backward.
“I thought we had a good game plan going in. The execution is a different story,” Mayfield said. “We were prepared today. We came out and didn’t play well. Too many penalties not enough plays made. You’re not going to win against a team like that when you don’t execute.”
The defense did well enough. The offense did not.
“I felt like we didn’t get anything in rhythm on offense, and it starts with running the football. It wasn't a great job on our part offensively today,” said Wilks, who got the job after Matt Rhule was dismissed with the team at 1-4.
There's a quarterback controversy brewing between Mayfield and Sam Darnold, but neither can be successful without support from the running game. The Panthers managed only 36 yards on 17 attempts against the Ravens, including only 24 yards from D'Onta Foreman.
Foreman ran for 130 yards against Atlanta, but on this day he was completely shut down.
“It's tough when you can’t get the run game going. It was a long day for us on offense,” Mayfield said.
The question now is, will Mayfield be there behind center next week when the Panthers host Denver?
Or will it be Darnold, who's attempting to return from a high ankle injury?
“It’s too early to say. We have to evaluate the tape and then from there I’ll make a decision,” Wilks said.
No matter who's at quarterback, the Panthers will have to correct many of their flaws if they're to take the next step in their rebuild.
“You have to learn to stop beating yourself before you can learn how to win. Today was a pretty good example of that,” Mayfield said. “The fact is, we have to fix a lot of our own mistakes before we can be in position to win. You’ve got to stop beating yourself before anything can happen in a positive direction.”
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David Ginsburg, The Associated Press