CHARLOTTE -- There was good news for the Carolina Panthers, as linebacker Dan Morgan was able to play as much as he was going to.
That was pretty much it.
The Panthers first-string offense continued to struggle in everything but two-minute situations, they still can't seem to cover a tight end and they even had two field goal attempts blocked, as they dropped a 24-7 decision to New England in the dress rehearsal game of the preseason at Bank of America Stadium.
The first offense showed a few sparks but no fire, save a heave from Jake Delhomme to Keary Colbert just before halftime. Delhomme completed 11-of-18 passes for 162 yards and that touchdown, and it wasn't a total disappearing act like last week's Philadelphia experiment.
Still, all the promise they showed in their preseason opener at New York has failed to come back into view, leaving them more questions than answers as they approach first cuts Tuesday and the end of the exhibition slate next week against Pittsburgh.
"We didn't do a good job the first couple of quarters," Colbert said. "We had a two-minute situation where we got the ball back, and our goal was to get into the end zone. We finally tightened up and got in the end zone.
"We just have to continue to compete. You learn a lot about your team when things don't go right. We got down early today and we have to learn how to fight back and stay in the game, because it happens like that sometimes. I think that's the lesson to be learned today, is how to fight back."
On both sides of the ball.
A week ago, Panthers coach John Fox took solace in the fact his run defense was solid against the Eagles, which was nearly the only thing that went right.
He certainly couldn't say the same thing this week, as the Patriots gashed them repeatedly on early downs, and always got enough in short-yardage situations to sustain long drives.
New England had 18- and 10-play drives in the first half alone, as they ran for 85 yards and kept the ball for 21 minutes and 15 seconds before the break.
Panthers safety Chris Harris, expected to lead a recently revamped group, didn't fare well this week either, after giving up some deep balls early against Philadelphia. Friday, he found himself on the wrong side of a pick by New England tight end Benjamin Watson (who was covered by a cornerback as well), leaving tight end Marcellus Rivers wide open for a 6-yard touchdown.
That one gave the Patriots a 10-0 lead with 5:37 left in the first half.
The Panthers did strike back near the end of the first half, as Delhomme hit a streaking Colbert across the middle of the field for a 48-yard touchdown pass with 34 seconds left.
The Pats went back up 10 when Tom Brady directed another clean drive, hitting fullback Heath Evans for an obvious 8-yard touchdown, though the Panthers were hoping for a review miracle fumble ruling.
Colbert almost made another big grab on their one series in the second half, but that went away when he was called for pass interference. He ended up dropping the ball anyway, symbolic of their night.
That set up Kasay's second blocked attempt, this one from 42 yards. He had a 49-yarder stopped in the second quarter.
While the home fans cheered the arrival of backup quarterback David Carr late in the third quarter, he didn't do much to whip them into a lather.
His first drive lost yardage, ending with a too-familiar-for-him sack. Then after completing a few passes (with Dwayne Jarrett and Taye Biddle making nice grabs), he threw an interception to linebacker Oscar Lua.
Carr finished 8-of-11 for 58 yards and the interception, before yielding to Brett Basanez midway through the fourth.