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Packers 30, Panthers 23

Packers corner Charles Woodson hits helmetless Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart. Woodson had two interceptions.

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Packers corner Charles Woodson hits helmetless Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart. Woodson had two interceptions.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the second straight week, Cam Newton threw for more than 400 yards, sidestepped pass rushers and moved the Panthers up and down the field.

Leave it to Aaron Rodgers and the Super Bowl champion Packers to spoil Newton's home debut.

Rodgers threw for 308 yards and two scores and Green Bay withstood a 432-yard passing day by the No. 1 overall draft pick to beat Carolina 30-23 on Sunday.

A week after throwing for 422 yards — most in league history by a rookie in his debut and tying the overall rookie record — Newton topped himself by setting a rookie record for passing yards in a game. He passed for a touchdown and ran for a 4-yard score with 37 seconds left to bring Carolina within seven, but the Packers recovered the onside kick.

"I knew he would be good, but if I told you I knew he'd be this good this early, I'd be lying to you," said Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji, who had one of four sacks.

Rodgers found Greg Jennings for a 49-yard touchdown early in the third quarter, the go-ahead score in a run of 23 straight points to erase a 13-0 deficit.

Then, after Clay Matthews stopped Newton a yard shy on a fourth-down run inside the 5, Rodgers found Jordy Nelson for an 84-yard score that made it a two-possession game.

Despite Newton's yards, the Packer defense came up big by forcing the rookie into three interceptions — two by Charles Woodson. Matthews' stop came as the Panthers were closing in on a tying touchdown.

Two plays later, Rodgers found Nelson on the left side, and the receiver sprinted down the sideline and all the way to the end zone to push the lead to 30-16 with 2:14 left.

Just as with last week's loss at Arizona, Newton wasn't in the mood to celebrate.

"We've just got to get it right. We're going to get it right," Newton said. "But I'm not the person to just sit up here and say, 'Well, we have next time.' I'm not that type of person. I want it right now and I want to get it right now."

Newton couldn't have asked for a better start in his home debut in front of a crowd loudly cheering his every move. He threw a 3-yard touchdown to Brandon LaFell on his first drive. Then, after a fumbled kickoff return by Randall Cobb, Newton directed the first of two field-goal drives to take the 13-0 lead.

But Newton's first pickoff came late in the second quarter when he threw to Steve Smith in double coverage. Woodson dived in front of Smith near the sideline.

"This is a rookie quarterback that's learning and growing and getting better each opportunity he gets," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "When we go back and really get to watch the tape, we'll see he missed a read here, he missed a throw here, but for the most part, he handled himself with the type of poise and composure you would not expect."

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Packers 30, Panthers 23 09/18/11 [Last modified: Sunday, September 18, 2011 10:20pm]
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