The Carolina Panthers claimed one of their most dramatic wins in franchise history in improbable fashion -- with quarterback Cam Newton outdueling New England's Tom Brady, the master of fourth-quarter comebacks. Newton hit Ted Ginn Jr. on a game-winning, 25-yard touchdown pass with 59 seconds left to lead the Panthers past the Patriots 24-20 in front of a crowd of 74,000-plus that had Bank of America Stadium rocking in the final minutes. Brady didn't go down without a fight, getting the Patriots to the Carolina 18 with three seconds left. On the final play, Brady threw into the end zone for tight end Rob Gronkowski, but rookie safety Robert Lester stepped in front for the interception. Officials initially threw a flag on linebacker Luke Kuechly for pass interference on Gronkowski but picked up the flag, giving the Panthers their biggest win since 2008, the last time they made the playoffs. The Panthers (7-3) look to be on their way back to the postseason. They've won six in a row, matching a six-game streak in 2005 for the second-longest in franchise history. The 1996 team had a seven-game winning streak. The Panthers improved to 7-4 all-time on Monday Night Football, while the Patriots (7-3) fell to 22-23 on MNF. "It was a gutsy effort," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "It wasn't our best defensive effort. But it most certainly was one of our best offensive efforts." Newton completed 19 of 28 for 209 yards and three touchdown, with a passer rating of 125.4. He was the game's leading rusher with 62 yards on seven carries. Newton took the Panthers 83 yards on 13 plays on the game-winning drive, converting two third downs on running plays by Newton. "It feels very good to win football games like we did this week and last week" at San Francisco, Rivera said. Brady was 29 of 40 for 296 yards with one touchdown and the game-ending interception. The second half started ominously for the Panthers when defensive end Charles Johnson left with a knee injury on the opening series. Johnson went down after being leg-whipped by right tackle Marcus Cannon, who was not penalized on the play. With Johnson in the locker room, Brady took the Patriots down the field, picking on undrafted rookie cornerback Melvin White. After a holding penalty on White gave the Pats a first-and-goal, Brady found tight end Rob Gronkowski on a 9-yard touchdown pass to tie it at 10 with10:31 left. Johnson returned to the game for the final series when the Patriots moved from their 20 into Panthers' territory.
Carolina Panthers hold off New England 24-20
Charlotte Observer | Nov 19