Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil, who was trying to play through a shoulder injury that cost him the past two games, exited after Carolina's first drive of the half. Later in the quarter, head trainer Ryan Vermillion held the left arm of nickel back Leonard Johnson as he walked off the field.
Midway through the fourth, defensive end Mario Addison limped off after covering a punt. And eight plays later, linebacker Luke Kuechly was carted off in one of the most heartbreaking scenes in Bank of America Stadium history.
Despite all that, and the fact the Panthers nearly blew a comfortable lead for the second time in 10 days, quarterback Cam Newton refused to add to the melancholy mood.
"I'm not about to let you guys downplay this win. We won. So I'm excited that we won," Newton said. "We get to go into a mini-bye week and get healthy. So that's my feeling.
"Everybody is talking down and saying this and that. But look, I'm going to leave this and go to Atlanta and feel good. Me and my son are going to go on a run. He's going to cook for me. I talked to him. That's what he said he's going to do."
Chosen Newton hasn't even celebrated his first birthday and he's already cooking?
"Hey," his dad said, "you just have to know how to make gourmet Lucky Charms right out of the box."