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Defense ruling the day in Carolina

Washington Redskins quarterback John Beck warms up before their NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte Reuters

The bad news for the Redskins is that the start of the John Beck era hasn’t led to many points.

The good news is that their defense isn’t giving up much to the Panthers, either. It is 9-6 at the half in Charlotte as the Panthers took the lead just before the half on a Redskins turnover.

Carolina has been in the red zone twice, but settled for two Olindo Mare field goals. Their best touchdown chance came on a Cam Newton run when he launched himself toward the end zone but met London Fletcher before he could get the ball to the promised land. Newton’s passing has looked better after a couple of rocky weeks — 10-of-15 for 104 yards — but he hasn’t been able to make the big plays that marked his first few weeks. Protection has been a problem for the Panthers line. The Redskins came up with four sacks in the first half to help thwart the Panthers’ progress.

The final Panthers field goal came after Jabar Gaffney fumbled with less than a minute to play in the half inside Washington territory. The Panthers gained just seven yards, though, and Mare came on to give them the lead with two seconds to play.

As for Beck, the best things to say about his play thus far is that he’s a better scrambler than Rex Grossman and that his snap count has tricked the Panthers into jumping offside a couple of times. His passing hasn’t been good and he fumbled on a sack by Antwan Applewhite in the first quarter. The Redskins seem to be down on Beck’s passing ability as well. They have relied heavily on Tim Hightower, who has 78 yards on 15 carries to do most of the offensive heavy lifting for the Redskins.

It will be tough for Beck to get on track in the air in the second half unless Santana Moss returns. His hand is heavily wrapped after suffering an injury early in the game and his return is being called questionable.

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