Panthers fall to the Browns 26-20 in fifth straight loss

In what seems to be an unwelcome trend, the Carolina Panthers fell to the Cleveland Browns 26-20 in the team's fifth straight loss.

It's a loss that could haunt them for months and will increase the heat on coach Ron Rivera. The Panthers, now 6-7, recently fired two defensive coaches in order to address the losing streak. It appears those moves haven't fixed the problem. 

Cam Newton passed for 265 yards, but overthrew Jarius Wright on 4th-and-goal at the 3 with 2:35 left. Carolina got the ball back, but Newton, who has been playing with a sore right shoulder, badly missed Devin Funchess and was intercepted by Damarious Randall with 57 seconds left.

Before taking a knee on the final two plays, Baker Mayfield revved up Cleveland's crowd, who counted down the final seconds.

Mayfield finished 18 of 22 for 238 yards, continuing his bounce back after throwing three interceptions in the first half last week at Houston.

Carolina came in just a half-game out of the second wild-card spot in the NFC, but with only three games left, including two against New Orleans, the Panthers are going to need help to make the postseason.

Christian McCaffrey had two TD runs for Carolina and finished with 101 total yards.

Browns rookie Nick Chubb scored on a 1-yard run to give the Browns a 23-20 lead with 13:05 left. The score came one play after Landry took an inside handoff and weaved his way down field. Greg Joseph clanged the extra point off the left upright, keeping the Panthers within three.

Newton drove the Panthers to the 3 before throwing two straight incompletions, ending Carolina's best chance to take the lead.

Mayfield's 51-yard TD pass to Landry tied it 14-all with 8:27 left in the second quarter.

Rolling left out of the pocket to buy some time, Mayfield stepped up and confidently delivered a perfect strike to Landry, who was well covered on the play by safety Eric Reid, his former LSU teammate. As fans celebrated, Landry and several teammates sat down in the end zone's corner and pretended to warm themselves around a camp fire.

Mayfield and Newton were both hot in the first half. Mayfield completed 8 of 10 passes for 176 yards and a TD while Newton was 15 of 20 for 185.

Newton drove the Panthers to a touchdown on their first possession with McCaffrey scoring on a 4-yard run.

Rivera took over defensive play calling from coordinator Eric Washington this week, and Mayfield wasted no time challenging the Panthers.

On Cleveland's first play, Mayfield unloaded a pass that traveled more than 60 yards in the air to wide receiver Breshad Perriman for a 66-yard pickup. Two plays later, Landry scored.

With only three games left in the regular season, the likelihood of the Panthers clinching a playoff spot are slim. The Panthers have already lost Greg Olsen for the season and the remaining games they have left aren't exactly easy. They face New Orleans, then a rematch with Atlanta, followed by a second game against the Saints.

The Saints, 11-2, are the number one team in the NFC, which doesn't look good for Carolina. While Atlanta may have the worst record in the division, 4-9, the Falcons already beat the Panthers  in their first match up. 

Sunday's game with the Browns was held in Cleveland. FOX 46 reported this story from Charlotte. The Associated Press contributed to this report.