Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Sports

Panthers perfect after banner day

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton was determined to protect the Panthers' house at all costs.

That meant the fifth-year quarterback tearing down a large Packers banner before the game that was hanging over the inside wall of the stadium — and later taking down Green Bay by throwing for three touchdowns and running for another on Sunday in a 37-29 victory.

Newton threw for 297 yards as the Panthers, 8-0 for the first time, took a step toward securing homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Every other NFC team has at least two losses, now including the Packers.

Carolina has 12 straight regular-season wins, 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 playing in Bank of America Stadium and playing in front of the Carolinas every week."

Carolina led 37-14 in the fourth quarter before Aaron Rodgers rallied Green Bay and nearly gave the Packers a chance to force overtime.

Rodgers threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns but couldn't take advantage of one of Newton's few mistakes: An interception with 3:38 left that gave the Packers the ball at the Carolina 22. Rodgers' fourth-and-goal pass from the Carolina 4 was intercepted by linebacker Thomas Davis.

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 replay.

"We had an opportunity for a pitch-and-catch touchdown, and I got scared by something," Rodgers said. "I can't explain."

Earlier, Julius Peppers refused to give the ball back to Newton after the quarterback scored, instead tossing the in the opposite direction. Newton retrieved the ball and gave it to a fan.

And, down by 37-14 in the fourth quarter, Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix began jawing at Peppers, who was on the bench; B.J. Raji stepped in, shoving Clinton-Dix backward.

"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."

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