Panthers claw past Patriots, 24-20
Cam Newton's third touchdown pass, a 25-yarder to Ted Ginn Jr. with 59 seconds to play, gave host Carolina its sixth consecutive victory after a controversial finish.
Newton finished 19-of-28 for 209 yards and rushed for 62 yards while directing three touchdown drives of at least 80 yards, including the game-winning 83-yard march after New England (7-3) went ahead with 10 straight points in the fourth quarter. Brandon LaFell and tight end Greg Olsen each had scoring receptions to keep the Panthers (7-3) one game behind first-place New Orleans in the NFC South.
Tom Brady threw for 296 yards and one touchdown on 29-of-40 passing and moved the Patriots to the Carolina 18-yard line with three seconds left before his last-gasp pass was intercepted by Robert Lester in the end zone as a flag for apparent interference on Rob Gronkowski was thrown, but picked up. Gronkowski had five catches for 59 yards and a TD and Stevan Ridley rushed for 48 yards and a score as New England had its two-game win streak snapped.
The Panthers jumped out to a 10-0 lead, getting the only score of the opening quarter when Newton threw a 9-yard scoring pass to LaFell to cap a nine-play, 90-yard drive. New England got within 10-3 at the half on Stephen Gostkowski's 42-yard field goal and pulled even on its opening drive of the second half when Brady found Gronkowski on a 9-yard scoring strike.
Newton drove the Panthers 81 yards in 13 plays on the ensuing possession, keeping the drive alive with a highlight-reel scramble in which he avoided three defenders, before capping it with a 15-yard TD pass to Olsen in the right side of the end zone. Brady directed consecutive scoring marches, with Ridley powering in from a yard out before Gostkowski's 26-yard field goal made it 20-17 with 6:32 to play.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Brady notched his 4,000th career completion in the first quarter and his scoring pass to Gronkowski was the 40th between the duo, the most he has had with any receiver. Randy Moss (39) held the previous mark. ... Panthers DE Charles Johnson, who leads the team with 8.5 sacks, suffered an apparent knee injury during a running play in the opening minute of the third quarter, but later returned. ... Patriots RB Shane Vereen, playing for the first time since suffering a dislocated wrist in the season opener, had eight catches for 65 yards.