CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Here's a breakdown of the Buffalo Bills' 9-3 loss against the Carolina Panthers Sunday at Bank of America Stadium:
Defensive dominance: This knife cut both ways, but do you think Sean McDermott, the Panthers' defensive coordinator the past six seasons, had a pretty good feel for his former team's offense? The Bills put together a game plan that consistently frustrated and pounded on Cam Newton. The Bills had six sacks, the most since they had seven against the New York Jets on Nov. 24, 2014, and Newton wound up with an ankle injury but didn't leave the game. Jerry Hughes had two sacks, equaling a career best for his eight NFL seasons.
Offensive ineptitude: The Bills came ever so close to pulling this out, with Tyrod Taylor firing a fourth-down pass for Zay Jones who got both hands on the ball before allowing it to slip through his fingers with nine seconds left at the Carolina 1. Otherwise, the Bills couldn't reach the end zone and couldn't get anything going in any phase of their offense. They finished with 176 yards. How about this for a stunning stat line? LeSean McCoy had nine yards on 12 carries, an average of 0.8 yards per carry. Of course, the Panthers managed only three field goals.
Jordan Poyer, sack machine?: For the second time in as many games, safety Jordan Poyer recorded a sack. That's a first for his five-year NFL career. Poyer also became the Bills' first defensive back to have sacks in back-to-back games since Nickell Robey-Coleman in 2013 (when his last name wasn't hyphenated).
Shady hits 3,000: There was a bright side to one of the worst rushing days of McCoy's nine-year pro career. He became only the fourth active NFL running back to reach 3,000 career receiving yards. The others are Darren Sproles, Matt Forte and Frank Gore.
Back it up!: The Bills' bench drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on a third-down pass play with 9:16 left in the second quarter after side judge James Coleman bumped into a coach on their sidelines and fell to the ground. Rules require that everyone on the sidelines be back far enough so such random contact doesn't happen, which was the reason for the penalty that moved the Bills from their 21 to their 12 for Colton Schmidt's punt.
Coleman was injured, and members of the Bills' athletic training staff escorted him off the field for treatment.
Player of the game: The best player on the field was Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who consistently was wide open over the middle and caught six passes for 77 yards. Hughes gave the best performance for the Bills.
Taylor climbs: All it took was a nine-yard completion on the Bills' first drive for Taylor to move into seventh place on the Bills' all-time passing yards list. He moved past Dennis Shaw (6,286). With his ninth completion, Taylor moved ahead of Trent Edwards into eighth place on the Bills' all-time completions list.
Counting the house: The crowd was announced at 74,122. A fair number of seats were occupied by Bills fans, many of whom made the trip from Western New York and others who are transplants.
Up next: It's back to the cozy confines of New Era Field, where the 1-1 Bills face the Denver Broncos next Sunday.