CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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.
©2013 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)
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