CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
The Rams scored on the next play when Eugene Sims tackled Mike Tolbert in the end zone for a safety — the first points surrendered by the Panthers in the opening quarter all season.
After the teams traded field goals, the Panthers took a 17-5 lead just before halftime on a 1-yard plunge by Tolbert.
Down 20-5, Bradford connected with Quick on a 73-yard completion, setting up a short TD pass to Zac Stacy to trim Carolina’s lead to eight.
But Carolina came right back as Newton drove Carolina 72 yards, hitting Steve Smith for his 800th career reception, a 19-yard touchdown for a 27-12 lead.
The Panthers have a chance to get above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2008 season when they travel to Tampa Bay on Thursday night.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Newton’s steady play is a big reason for the team’s optimism moving forward.
“He has done a great job,” Rivera said. “You talk about things that he does and his reads and learning to go through his progressions the right way. ... When you see him doing those types of things to give us a chance to win, you know that he has matured.”
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