Allowing Steve Smith to enjoy a productive afternoon at their expense was only part of the misery for the Carolina Panthers.
Another poor performance by the defense, an inconsistent outing by Cam Newton and too many penalties were also very much a factor in a 38-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Smith spent 13 seasons with Carolina before he was released in a cost-cutting move during the offseason. Facing his former team for the first time, the 35-year-old wide receiver had seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
Both scores came in the second quarter and provided the Ravens (3-1) with a 21-7 halftime lead.
"He did some really good things," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. "That's who Steve is. We know who he is."
The usually boisterous Smith refused to brag or shout. He let his actions speak for him.
"I didn't have anything good, bad or indifferent to say. I just played," he said. "At the end of the day, honestly they didn't deserve anything I had to say that would be derogatory — and I didn't need to."
Carolina (2-2) has dropped two straight, both in lopsided fashion against AFC North foes.
One week after yielding 264 yards rushing in a 37-19 loss to Pittsburgh, the Panthers gave up 454 yards of offense, 25 first downs and four 80-yard drives.
"We weren't able to stop the run. We weren't very good against the pass, either," safety Thomas DeCoud said. "We're going to have right this ship as soon as possible."
Newton completed 14 of 25 passes for 197 yards. Under duress for much of the day, he was sacked twice.
"We will get better," he vowed. "It's no time to panic."
Newton received little help from a running game that was without leading rusher Jonathan Stewart (knee), and DeAngelo Williams left in the second quarter with an ankle injury.
The Panthers lost a fumble, didn't force a turnover and were penalized seven times — twice for having 12 men on the field.
"Apparently we've got to look at what we're doing and make sure it gets corrected," Rivera said. "We've got to find answers and we've got to do it quickly."
Baltimore's Joe Flacco went 22 for 31 for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Justin Forsett ran for 68 yards, backup Lorenzo Taliaferro gained 58, and each scored.
The Panthers held the ball for nearly eight minutes on the opening possession and drove to the Baltimore 17 before a penalty and sack took them out of field goal range.
After that, neither team got close to scoring until Smith caught a pass that deflected off the right hand of teammate Owen Daniels. Smith snagged the ball in stride and took it into the end zone to complete a 61-yard play.
Smith took a bow in the end zone, ran off the field and heaved the ball into the stands.
"They didn't even deserve me to spin the ball on them," he said of his former teammates. "I just caught it and put it down and went about my business."
Carolina tied it with an 80-yard drive, capped by Newton's 28-yard pass to wide-open rookie Kelvin Benjamin in the front left corner of the end zone.
After the Panthers went three-and-out for the first time, Smith got his second touchdown despite being harassed by cornerback Melvin White, who was called for pass interference. What made the score even more special was that Flacco fumbled the snap, scooped up the ball and lofted a floater that found its mark in the end zone.
Baltimore clinched it with a 12-play drive for a 35-10 lead with 11:34 remaining. Flacco went 5 for 5 for 56 yards on the possession, twice hitting Steve Smith.
Afterward, someone asked the veteran receiver how he planned to mark the occasion.
"Watch a few highlights, eat a little apple pie, move on," Smith replied.
Notes: Carolina FB Richie Brockel left in the first quarter with an ankle injury. ... It was Steve Smith's 46th career 100-yard game.
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