GREEN BAY, Wis. – Quarterback Cam Newton had nowhere to run. Linebacker Luke Kuechly left the field swinging.
A frustrating first half for the Carolina Panthers snowballed into a 38-17 loss Sunday to the Green Bay Packers.
Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes, Randall Cobb torched the Carolina secondary for 121 yards on six catches and the Packers never looked back after scoring on their first three series.
"We just got outplayed in every phase of the game," Newton said.
Sure-tackling Green Bay (5-2) limited the mobile quarterback in the first half. Green Bay built on its quick start to take a 28-3 lead at halftime, eliminating the threat of the Panthers' ground game.
Newton, who had a career-high 17 carries last week, had 41 yards rushing on seven attempts. He passed for 205 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown for Carolina (3-3-1).
But Newton did most of his damage with Carolina trailing by three scores.
"It's frustrating when you're sitting on the sidelines and you self-evaluate yourself," Newton said. "What I did wasn't good enough."
Carolina played without injured starting left guard Amini Silatolu. Two more starters, left tackle Byron Bell and right guard Trai Turner, were also hampered by injuries.
A defense minus starting cornerback Josh Norman and linebacker Chase Blackburn couldn't stop the Packers' up-tempo offense early.
Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 59-yard scoring strike on the first series. Eddie Lacy and James Starks each added rushing touchdowns in the first quarter.
Rodgers was 19 of 22 for 255 yards before leaving early in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. It was Rodgers' sixth straight game without an interception, tying Bart Starr for the franchise record set in 1964.
"We had 21 first-quarter points ... which made them one-dimensional," Rodgers said, "especially with the way that Cam ran the ball last week."
The Panthers finally got their first touchdown with 9:43 left in the fourth quarter after Newton found receiver Kelvin Benjamin for a 13-yard score.
It hardly mattered after nearly everything went wrong for Carolina in the first half.
Carolina had pushed Green Bay back to third-and-12 on Packers 28 on the first drive when the Panthers were whistled for two straight 5-yard penalties. Rodgers scrambled for three yards on third-and-2 before finding Nelson for the long touchdown pass.
Nelson got behind cornerback Antoine Cason, who then slipped. Safety Roman Harper watched Nelson sidestep around him and jog all the way into the end zone.
"It's a well-developed offense. They have great communication," coach Ron Rivera said. "That's what Aaron Rodgers has developed with his players."
Still, Carolina gave Green Bay too many second chances. Harper said the team thought it had prepared for Rodgers' snap count, which instead drew the penalties.
"You've got to understand when his snap count is and when he's trying to go," Harper said. "We didn't do that at all today and because of that we got our butts whipped."
Green Bay's next drive ended with Lacy high-stepping into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 5:53 left in the first quarter. The Panthers helped on that series after getting caught with too many men on the field on third-and-3 to give the Packers a first down.
"Excellent team victory today," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We not only improved our record, but our quality of play improved."
Carolina's frustration mounted as the deficit grew.
Kuechly was ejected late in the third quarter. Last season's Defensive Player of the Year swung his arms and seemed agitated as he was restrained from behind by back judge Steve Freeman following a scramble for a fumble recovered by the Packers.
The linebacker calmed down when he turned around and saw the official, who threw a flag. Kuechly said he didn't mean to do it.
"It's one of those things that it's an emotional game, but you've just got to walk away from the situations and you can't let that happen," he said.
NOTES: Turner left with a knee injury, while Bell had an elbow injury. WR Philly Brown left in the second half with a concussion. ... Backup QB Derek Anderson connected with WR Brenton Bersin for a 1-yard TD pass late with 1:24 in the fourth quarter. ... For the Packers, Starks left the game with a left ankle injury, while CB Davon House left with a finger injury. ... Lacy finished with 63 yards on 12 carries.
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