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“I thought he made some good third down decisions,” Fox said of Clausen. “We had some mishaps early in the first half where we were maybe not quite as clean as we needed to be and had to use some timeouts. But all in all I thought he performed pretty well.”

Clausen was also helped by fourth-string running back Mike Goodson, who rushed for 100 yards in Carolina’s best performance on the ground this season amid numerous injuries.

Still, it wasn’t enough to lead Carolina to its second win, with a leaky defense to blame. The Panthers gave up 421 yards, including 186 on the ground.

Two weeks ago, the Panthers were ranked fourth in the league in total defense. They’ve dropped to 14th after allowing 829 yards in two weeks to New Orleans and Tampa Bay.

“The opponent has a little something to do with it,” Fox said.

Now the Panthers have uncertainty again at QB _ and at receiver and the offensive line. Left guard Travelle Wharton was knocked out of Sunday’s game with what Fox called turf toe. No. 3 receiver Brandon LaFell left with a concussion.

But despite all the losses and injuries, the Panthers claim they haven’t quit. And Smith’s aggressive reaction on the final play Sunday may prove that.

“I don’t see really a way I can comment on that, other than it shows a lot about Steve to take care of his teammate,” Fox said.