CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Raiders can't catch a break, nor are they good enough to make their own.
That was evident Sunday in a 17-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers, a game that was destined to be a struggle the moment quarterback Carson Palmer left for good with 1:57 left in the first quarter.
Hit from behind by Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy, who was called for roughing the passer, Palmer did not suffer broken ribs, according to X-rays, but was in too much pain to continue.
Backup quarterback Matt Leinart, in his most extensive playing time in more than three years, struggled with rhythm, timing and accuracy, completing 16 of 32 passes for 115 yards with one interception.
The Raiders, who haven't scored a touchdown since the fourth quarter Dec. 6 against Denver, scored on 31- and 21-yard field goals by Sebastian Janikowski in falling to 4-11.
"There were some plays left on the field, and that starts with me," Leinart said. "I just have to make more plays to help us win."
Oakland's running game, which had shown some signs of life over the past few weeks, was stuffed by the Carolina defense. The Raiders had 47 yards on 22 carries, with Darren McFadden getting 33 yards on 17 attempts.
Stout defensively, the Raiders gave up their fewest points of the season aside from games played against the 2-13 Kansas City Chiefs.
"I thought our defense kept us in the game," coach Dennis Allen said. "Our defense gave us some opportunities we just weren't able to take advantage of those opportunities. That was an explosive offense we played we've just got to score more points."
It was the third straight win for Carolina (6-9), which concluded its home schedule with quarterback Cam Newton completing 18 of 29 passes for 170 yards and a 23-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith in the first quarter. Newton also rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries and had a three-yard touchdown run.
Carolina's Graham Gano finished the scoring with a 51-yard field goal with 2:46 left, sending the Raiders to their 10th consecutive loss in the Eastern time zone.
The Raiders held the Panthers to 271 yards of offense and kept Newton's option game relatively in check. Newton was sacked twice, and lead running back DeAngelo Williams had just 19 yards on 10 carries 14 yards coming on an option pitch.
In two key instances, the Raiders' offense got help but failed to capitalize with a touchdown.
After Oakland's Shane Lechler punted on the first possession of the third quarter, Chimdi Chekwa poked the ball free from Joe Adams, with Richard Gordon recovering the fumble at the Carolina 32. Leinart then threw wide to Marcel Reece, who was dropped for a four-yard loss.
Leinart then threw short to McFadden over the middle for three yards. The next play, a pass for no gain to Mike Goodson, was erased by a Jared Veldheer holding penalty. Faced with third and 21, Leinart threw for one yard to Brandon Myers, with the Raiders electing to punt at the Carolina 42 rather than attempt a 60-yard field goal by Janikowski.
On the last play of the third quarter, Oakland's Philip Wheeler deflected a Newton pass that was intercepted by Miles Burris (Granite Bay High School) at the Carolina 18. The Raiders had first and goal at the 8 when Carolina's Charles Godfrey was called for unnecessary roughness. Oakland reached the 3-yard line when Terrelle Pryor threw five yards to Reece.
A holding penalty on Stefen Wisniewski after McFadden trotted into the end zone with an apparent touchdown led to a third-and-goal incompletion from the 13 by Leinart and Janikowski's second field goal.