CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Steve Beuerlein has felt personally responsible for several Carolina losses this season. On Monday night, he was a major reason the Panthers won.
Beuerlein overcame two turnovers to pass for 243 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 31-14 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers needed a win to improve already slim playoff hopes but they looked flat from the start. Their most energetic moment might have been when Ahman Green tackled a fan who ran onto the field in the fourth quarter.
Beuerlein, who only had 13 turnovers last season, came into the game with 19 this season. He also had been sacked a league-high 45 times.
The poor numbers caused the 14-year veteran to take responsibility for several setbacks, especially a 20-10 loss to New Orleans this month, when he gave up the ball five times.
''We've had a lot of problems on offense. A few too many turnovers is just one them,'' Beuerlein said. ''You go through periods in your career, periods through a season, when things don't happen for you and you just don't know why.
''But the bottom line is we got a win and I made up for some of that.''
Against the Packers, it looked like Beuerlein's turnovers would again hurt Carolina (5-7). He threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to put Carolina up 14-0, but negated those with a fumble and interception in the second quarter that led to Green Bay TDs.
''There is no question that our team was excited about the ball game and we got off to a great start,'' Carolina coach George Seifert said.
But as Beuerlein dropped back to pass early in the second quarter, LeRoy Butler pushed the ball out of his hands directly into Nate Wayne's open arms. Green Bay scored 44 seconds later, when Green ran 26 yards untouched into the end zone to make it 14-7.
Beuerlein later wasted fantastic field position when he was intercepted at the 10-yard line.
The Panthers got the ball when Ken Walters' punt dropped between Allen Rossum and Mike McKenzie, and the ball then bounced up and hit McKenzie. Carolina's Karl Hankton pounced on it and the Panthers had the ball at the 20.
But Beuerlein was picked off three plays later by Tyrone Williams, who returned it 46 yards. Packers quarterback Brett Favre then hit Donald Driver with a 32-yard touchdown pass that tied it 14-14 with 2:02 to play in the half.
Beuerlein finished 22-of-37 with two turnovers and two more sacks. But he came up big when it counted, and for the second year in a row hurt the Packers' bid for the playoffs.
A year ago, he scored on a 5-yard touchdown run as time expired to rally Carolina to a 33-31 win. Several Green Bay players later said that loss cost them a shot at the postseason.
Now, Green Bay (5-7) must win out -- against Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota and Tampa Bay -- to have a chance to make the playoffs.
Beuerlein got the Panthers going from the outset, completing a 31-yard pass to tight end Kris Mangum on the first play from scrimmage to reach the Green Bay 37.
A screen pass to backup running back Brad Hoover for 16 yards on a third-and-6 play then set up Beuerlein's 14th TD pass of the season -- a 3-yarder to Chris Hetherington.
He later threw a 12-yard TD pass to Muhsin Muhammad and hit Muhammad again in the third quarter on a 3-yard scoring strike.
Muhammad finished with 131 yards on 11 catches, including the touchdowns.
Hoover, an undrafted rookie from Western Carolina filling in for the injured Tshimanga Biakabutuka, had 117 yards on 24 carries. Hoover had a 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Favre passed for 267 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted three times.
In the fourth quarter, Favre was picked off by Eric Davis on the 20-yard line. As Davis ran it back, a fan dressed in a Packers jacket sprinted onto the field and toward the pile of players that had just tackled Davis.
Green, who was running toward the pile, was then blocked by a Carolina player and slammed into the fan, knocking him down. The fan got back up and ran the length of the field, throwing a chop block to knock down a security guard on his way to the end zone.
Notes: Favre's two TD passes give him 250 for his career through 141 games, the second-fastest player to reach that milestone. Dan Marino threw 250 touchdown passes in 128 games. ... Green Bay defensive tackle Santana Dotson left the game in the second quarter with a right knee injury. He will have an MRI Tuesday. ... Carolina is averaging 31 points in its five victories. The Panthers have averaged 12.1 in their losses.
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.