CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Cam Newton was determined to
protect the Carolina Panthers' house on Sunday at all costs.
That meant the fifth-year quarterback tearing down
a large Green Bay Packers banner before the game that was hanging
over the inside wall of the stadium — and later taking down the
Packers by throwing for three touchdowns and running for another in
a 37-29 win.
Newton threw for 297 yards as the Panthers (8-0) took an
important step toward securing home-field advantage throughout the
NFC playoffs. Every other NFC team has at least two losses,
including the Packers (6-2).
Carolina has now won 12 straight regular-season games, including
seven straight at home.
"There was a Green Bay banner in Bank of America Stadium — and
that just doesn't match," Newton said. "... We take pride in having
an edge and playing in Bank of America Stadium and playing in front
of the Carolinas every week, and it's something that I feel it was
my due diligence to protect" the stadium.
Carolina led by 23 points in the fourth quarter before Aaron
Rodgers rallied Green Bay and nearly gave the Packers a chance to
extend the game into overtime.
Rodgers threw for 369 yards and four TDs, but couldn't take
advantage of one of Newton's few mistakes: an interception with 3:38
left in the game that gave the Packers the ball at the Carolina 22.
Down by 8, Rodgers fourth-and-goal pass from the Carolina 4 was
intercepted by linebacker Thomas Davis.
Panthers' Cam Newton (1) is tackled by Green Bay Packers'
Damarious Randall (23) in the first half.
It capped a frustrating day for the Packers. Rodgers was so annoyed
he threw his tablet on the ground on the sideline after watching the
"We had an opportunity for a pitch-and-catch touchdown, and I got
scared by something," Rodgers said. "I can't explain. It was a
mistake for me, and something I'll think about on the ride home. I
don't know who was in my face; all I know is I had Randall (Cobb)
wide open for a touchdown."
Earlier in the game, Julius Peppers refused to give the ball back
to Newton after the quarterback scored a touchdown, instead electing
to toss the ball down the field in the opposite direction. Newton
retrieved the ball and gave it to a fan.
And, down by 37-14 in the fourth quarter, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix began
jawing at Peppers, who was seated on the bench. Peppers stood up and
talked back before B.J. Raji stepped in, shoving Clinton-Dix
"It doesn't concern me," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's
football. Things happen on the sidelines. It's a product of us not
playing to our standard. Sometimes things like that happen. I have
Panthers' Corey Brown (10) catches a touchdown pass as Green Bay
Packers' Demetri Goodson (39) defends in the first half.
It was the second straight game the Panthers nearly surrendered a
commanding fourth quarter lead. Carolina lost a 17-point lead on
Monday night to Indianapolis before rallying to win 29-26 in
"We make it tough, I don't know why," Panthers tight end Greg
Olsen said. "It's almost like we like torturing ourselves."
Coach Ron Rivera said the Panthers can't put themselves in that
"When you have somebody down you have to make plays and put them
away," Rivera said.
Carolina outscored Green Bay 24-0 in the second period to open a
27-7 halftime lead behind three Newton scores.
The dual-threat quarterback was dominant in the first half,
throwing for 209 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 37 yards
and another score.
The Packers opened the game in man coverage and Newton made them
pay right away by finding huge holes to run through for big gains.
Panthers' Cam Newton (1) reacts after running for a first down
against the Green Bay Packers.
Carolina also had a bevy of big plays in the passing game.
Carolina's first score was set up by a 59-yard pass to Jerricho
Cotchery. Newton gave Carolina the lead for good at 10-7 with a
52-yard pass to rookie Devin Funchess leading to a 7-yard TD pass to
Greg Olsen. Later, he came back with a 39-yard touchdown strike to
Philly Brown with 41 seconds left in the half.
He also scored his 38th career TD rushing in the first half,
moving into a tie for second place all-time among quarterbacks with
Kordell Stewart. Only Steve Young (43) has more.
Newton repeatedly went after rookie cornerback Damarious Randall,
and the Panthers, despite playing without top defensive end Charles
Johnson, kept pressure on Rodgers all day.
Still, Rodgers wouldn't give in.
His 29-yard TD pass to James Starks and a 2-point conversion toss
to Davante Adams cut the lead to 15. Then, on fourth-and-14, Rodgers
rolled to his left evading three pass rushers and fired over the
middle on the run to James Jones for a 36-yard completion to keep
Green Bay's hopes alive. Rodgers completed the drive with 3-yard
pass to Richard Rodgers, his second touchdown of the game, to cut
the lead to 37-29.
"He is a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback who doesn't quit,"
NOTES: The Panthers sacked Rodgers five times. ... The Panthers
ran for 130 yards, marking the 19th straight game they have gained
at least 100 yards on the ground. ... Eddie Lacy was a nonfactor and
left with an ankle injury. He had 10 yards on five carries.