Drew Brees (9)
Drew Brees (9)
FOXBOROUGH – Ron Rivera had a message for his team after Sunday’s dramatic win over the New England Patriots.
“We expected this!” the Carolina head coach screamed after Graham Gano drilled a 46-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Panthers a 33-30 upset of the defending NFL champions on Sunday.
But the underdog and battered Panthers almost didn’t hang on, blowing a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter before a costly holding penalty on New England cornerback Stephen Gilmore kept a final drive going. Then, Gano, making up for missing an earlier extra point, came through on the final play of the game.
Cam Newton, overcoming a poor passing start to his season, threw for three touchdowns, ran for another and became the all-time winningest quarterback in franchise history with his 54th win.
“I feel like this was a breakthrough game for us offensively,” Newton said.
The Panthers are 3-1, but veteran defensive end Julius Peppers, who played despite having his injured right shoulder in a brace and had two sacks after bouncing back from an early knee injury, wanted to calm things down.
“That was the 2016 Patriots that won the Super Bowl. This is the 2017 Carolina Panthers,” he said.
“It was nice. I thought we did a good job battling through a little bit of adverse conditions. We showed a little bit of character. You could call this a character win.”
Newton torched the shaky Patriots defense for 316 yards, going 22 of 29, and picked up 44 more yards on the ground.
Jonathan Stewart, who became the team’s all-time leading rusher, had a huge 15-yard run on the final drive, also making up for an earlier miscue — a fumble at the Patriots’ 9. The run, then another Patriots penalty and two runs by Newton into the line, set up the kick.
“I’m fully confident,” Gano said. “I’m having a good year. Devin Funchess came to me when the Patriots went down and scored the touchdown and said to me, ‘We’ll get you in range, don’t even worry.’ I said, ‘I’m not, you get me in range and I’ll put it through.'”
Funchess, fighting through leg cramps late, had seven catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns as Carolina became the fourth straight team to pass for over 300 yards against the Patriots, who came in the lowest-rated defense in the NFL.
“It’s not where it needs to be,” cornerback Malcolm Butler, who had a first-half interception, said of the defense. “We’ve got to play better. We’re beating ourselves. We lost the game ourselves. It was nothing Carolina was doing. Basically, we beat ourselves (with) penalties.”
The Patriots have allowed 128 points in the first four games. Last year, they yielded 61 in going 3-1 in the first four.
Tom Brady, recording his 79th 300-yard game, was 11 of 14 in the two scoring drives that tied the game — Dion Lewis running 8 yards for one score and then Danny Amendola catching a 1-yard TD pass that tied it with 3:09 remaining.
Brady finished 32 of 45 for 307 yards with two touchdowns, with running back James White catching 10 but for just 47 yards.
It was the first time since 2012 that Brady lost two games at home in a season. The loss kept Brady from tying Brett Favre and Peyton Manning for the most regular-season wins by a quarterback — 168.
“There’s no guarantees and every year is different,” said Brady, who engineered a comeback against Houston that pulled out a 36-33 win the previous week. “We just haven’t done a good job at home.”
Stephen Gostkowski kicked a Patriots-record 58-yard field goal at the end of the first half while tight end Rob Gronkowski’s 80 yards on four catches made him the all-time leader in catching Brady passes.
Unlike last week, when 16 Patriots kneeled and Carolina’s Julius Peppers remained in the locker room during the national anthem, there were no protests during this national anthem. Patriots owner Robert Kraft joined his team on the sideline, where the players had their right hands on their hearts and their left on a teammate’s shoulder.
“I thought it was very well-thought out and I’m happy we responded that way,” Brady said.
Two Panthers — Stewart and Thomas Davis — appeared to be in prayer during the song. Then they won the game, which again showed the world how talented and productive Newton can be.
“He knew he was up against one of the all-time great QBs,” Rivera said. “He wanted to prove he could play with him.”
NOTES: Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower, who missed the first four games of the season with a knee injury, returned and had a big fourth-quarter sack. Head coach Bill Belichick wouldn’t comment on Hightower’s play, but said, “It’s good to have him back.” … The record-setting 58-yard field goal by Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski was a yard longer than kicks made both by him and Adam Vinatieri … The already banged-up Panthers lost S Kurt Coleman (knee) and WR Damiere Byrd (forearm) in the first half. Byrd said after the game he broke his arm. … Carolina, which opened a stretch of four of five games on the road, visits the Detroit Lions next Sunday while the Patriots are at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night. “It’s a quick turnaround and everyone’s going to deal with it at some point this year,” Patriots QB Tom Brady said.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (2-1) AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-1)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Gillette Stadium, TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter).
New England: QB Tom Brady
SERIES HISTORY: Sixth regular-season meeting. Panthers lead series, 3-2. However, the most important meeting came in Super Bowl XXXVIII, with New England winning 32-29 in Houston. The last matchup came in 2013, with the Panthers winning 24-20 at home in a Monday night game
KEYS TO THE GAME: There was much hand-wringing in New England after the Kansas City Chiefs went into Gillette Stadium and dominated the Patriots in a 42-27 win on opening night. Since then Tom Brady has thrown for 825 yards and eight touchdowns, and New England has scored 72 points in wins over New Orleans and Houston. The Patriots’ defense, on the other hand, is another story. The unit, which ranks last in the NFL to open the season, gave up 417 yards in a too-close-for-comfort, 36-33, come-from-behind win over Houston at home on Sunday. Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, making just the second start of his career, completed 22 of 33 pass attempts for 301 yards.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton called this Sunday’s game “gut-check time foe a lot of people.” He added: “And that’s including myself.” Head coach Ron Rivera has said Newton was “knocking the rust off” as he comes back from shoulder surgery in March. Newton was 17-for-26 for 167 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions in a 34-13 loss to New Orleans last week. “Things on the offensive side have to be better,” Newton said after losing to a Saints team that had surrendered 65 points and 773 yards in two losses to begin the season. “I’m proclaiming that (things will get better). So, moving forward, there’s no need to panic, there’s no need to rush, there’s no need to be up in arms about the situation.” Making matters worse for Newton are the loss of tight end Greg Olsen, who suffered a broken foot in the Panthers’ second game and will miss 6-8 weeks, and a knee injury that has No. 1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin listed as questionable.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
— Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey vs. New England linebacker Kyle Van Noy. While Carolina is still experimenting with its rookie, McCaffrey is coming off a 101-yard receiving day against New Orleans. Van Noy has been the Patriots’ defensive signal caller with Dont’a Hightower missing the past two games.
— New England quarterback Tom Brady vs. the Panthers’ young secondary. New England tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan are all averaging more 15 yards per reception in the season’s first three games. And now Brady will be taking aim at a Panthers defense that gave up pass plays of more than 20 yards to four different Saints receivers on Sunday.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
–Out: LB Jeremy Cash (calf), DE Daeshon Hall (knee), C Ryan Kalil (neck), WR Curtis Samuel (back), CB Daryl Worley (shoulder)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
–Doubtful: RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
–Questionable: T Marcus Cannon (ankle, concussion), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee), S Brandon King (hamstring), CB Eric Rowe (groin), WR Matt Slater (hamstring)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly: He’s coming off an eight-tackle performance against New Orleans, which for him marks a relatively quiet outing. Kuechly seemed bothered at times when the Panthers didn’t appear to recognize some of the schemes the Saints were using. The trip to New England is notable because Kuechly is a former Boston College standout and this is his first trip back in a playing capacity other than a 2014 preseason game.
FAST FACTS: Carolina QB Cam Newton hasn’t thrown a touchdown in the past two games and is coming off a 167-yard, three-interception effort against New Orleans. RB Jonathan Stewart has 6,800 career rushing yards and needs 47 to become team’s all-time leader (DE ANGELO WILLIAMS, 6,846). Rookie RB Christian McCaffrey ranks first among NFL rookies in receiving yards (173) and second in catches (18). LB Julius Peppers ranks fifth in NFL history with 146 career sacks. LB Thomas Davis had a career-high 17 tackles in last meeting between the two teams. … QB Tom Brady passed for 378 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions last week. That efforst was good enough for a 146.2 QB. RB Mike Gillislee is tied for NFL lead with four rushing touchdowns. TE Rob Gronkowski has 14 catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games. WR Brandin Cooks led the Patriots with 131 receiving yards and two touchdowns last week. LB Kyle Van Noy led the team with 11 tackles in Week 3.
PREDICTION: After a subpar performance in a Week 1 home loss to Kansas City, Tom Brady seems to have adjusted to life with Julian Edelman. Brady has eight touchdowns and more than 800 yards through the air in the past two weeks. The Panthers have too many questions with their passing game.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Sebastian Aho says that the overtime format is ideal for him. The smooth-skating rookie for the Carolina Hurricanes showed why Sunday. His second goal of the game came with 3:26 remaining in overtime to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 victory against the Boston Bruins at PNC Arena.
“It’s pretty fun out there 3-on-3, so many scoring chances” Aho said. “There’s so much more room.”
The winning sequence came after a Boston turnover, with Teuvo Teravainen there to provide the assist.
“First of all, great pass from Teuvo,” Aho said, referring to the play that produced his 10th goal of the season.
Aho ended up with a handshake from team owner Peter Karmanos, who was making a rare appearance at the home arena. After losing the first three games to end in the five-minute overtime period this season, the Hurricanes have won the last three games to end in that situation. Derek Allen and Jay McClement also scored for the Hurricanes, who have points in 12 of their last 13 home games. Carolina goalie Cam Ward made 32 saves.
He has witnessed Aho turn into a regular threat at the offensive end for the Hurricanes.
“Just showing a lot of confidence, a lot of poise,” Ward said.
The winning goal came despite the Bruins having some resistance. Aho appeared to use a Boston defenseman as a shield.
“There wasn’t a lot of room there,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said.
Tim Schaller, David Backes and Brad Marchand scored goals for the Bruins, who played beyond regulation for the first time in seven games. Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre, making only his fourth career appearance, stopped 26 shots. Boston is 1-2-1 in its last four games, winning consecutive games only once since the first week of December.
“We shortened our bench and tried to go with the guys that we really playing hard and doing a good job and you know, it brought us to an overtime,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Unfortunately, we were looking for that second point, but again didn’t get it here.”
In three meetings this season, including two in Raleigh, the home team won each time in overtime or a shootout. There were three goals during a wild two-minute stretch early in the third period. Backes tied the game when he collected a rebound for an easy tally with 14:11 remaining.
The Hurricanes responded when McClement scored after taking a feed from Viktor Stalberg, who was behind the net.
But 23 seconds later, the Bruins were even again on Marchand’s goal.
“It was kind of one of those momentum shift games in the third period,” Julien said. “I thought we came hard and played really well. You could tell we really wanted to win the game.”
The Carolina Hurricanes have enjoyed the comforts of home this season, as evidenced by their recent 11-game point streak at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes look to begin a similar run when they kick off a four-game home stand Sunday against the Boston Bruins.
Carolina went 10-0-1 in its own building after falling to Anaheim on Nov. 10 but had that string snapped by New Jersey on Tuesday, when it dropped a 3-1 decision for just its fourth regulation loss at home this season. After splitting a pair of road contests, the Hurricanes return to their familiar surroundings to take on the Bruins, who kicked off their four-game road trip Saturday as Tuukka Rask grabbed a share of the league lead with his fifth shutout in a 4-0 triumph at Florida. Brad Marchand registered his first two-goal performance since the season opener and leads Boston with 34 points.
TV: 5 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), FSN Southeast (Carolina)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (21-17-4): David Backes was back in the lineup Saturday after missing three games with a concussion and scored his 10th goal, giving Boston three players with double-digit totals. The club also could see the return of John-Michael Liles soon, as the defenseman took contact in practice Friday for the first time since suffering a concussion Nov. 27. “I’ve just been trying to work my way back after being out for a number of weeks, and I’ve been feeling good the last little while, so we’ll see when I get in,” Liles, who has missed 20 games, told the team’s website.
ABOUT THE HURRICANES (17-15-7): Ty Rattie notched an assist in a 2-1 loss Friday at Chicago for his first point in two games since being claimed off waivers from St. Louis — and first in six contests overall this season. The 23-year-old right wing remains in search of his first goal after scoring four in 13 games with the Blues last campaign. Jeff Skinner, who leads the team with 29 points, has notched one in each of his last two contests and is four away from 300 for his career.
1. Bruins RW David Pastrnak leads the team with 19 goals but is mired in a nine-game drought and has scored just once in his last 12 contests.
2. Carolina could turn to Michael Leighton on Sunday as fellow G Cam Ward has made 15 consecutive starts.
3. Boston C David Krejci is two points shy of 500 for his career.
PREDICTION: Hurricanes 3, Bruins 1
Carolina 23, New Orleans 20
When: 8:25 PM ET, Thursday, November 17, 2016
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
CHARLOTTE – (Wire Service Report) – This time, the Carolina Panthers figured out to finish the job. In danger of squandering a double-digit lead for the second time in five days, the Panthers held on for a 23-20 victory against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium.
“You’ve got to keep fighting,” Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said. “A lot of times this year, you’ve seen it go the other way.”
The Panthers (4-6) scored on a few short drives after first-half mistakes by Saints, and they emerged with the victory despite producing only 223 yards of total offense.
“We won,” Newton said. “I’m not going to downplay that we won. … Just finding ways to win, that’s what we have to get back to. It doesn’t matter how we do it.”
The Saints, who trailed by 20 points midway through the third quarter, pulled within 23-20 with 2:52 left on tight end Coby Fleener’s 8-yard touchdown catch of a Drew Brees pass.
New Orleans (4-6) didn’t take another snap until the 14-second mark at their own 14-yard line after a Carolina punt.
“We’ve got to make the tackles, and I think we did that,” Panthers safety Kurt Coleman said of the defense in general. “We didn’t let them get loose.”
Newton threw for one touchdown, completing 14 of 33 passes for 192 yards without an interception. Brees threw two touchdown passes and connected on 35 of 44 throws for 285 yards and one interception. The Saints were held to three points through three quarters.
“Those two turnovers killed us,” New Orleans receiver Willie Snead said. “You know it’s just a big momentum swing in the first half. In the second half, we started clicking a little more, and it put us in position to score.”
The outcome came days after the Panthers wasted a 17-point lead in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Panthers won for the third time in four games, forging a split of the season series with New Orleans.
“It wasn’t pretty at all,” Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson said. “We have to learn how to put teams away.”
Carolina played the final minutes Thursday night without star linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was taken from the field on a cart with 4:41 remaining to be evaluated for a concussion. Carolina didn’t have a sustained drive until opening the third quarter by going 51 yards in 14 plays, scoring on a Graham Gano’s 42-yard field goal for a 23-3 advantage.
The Saints’ only third-quarter possession included two fourth-down conversions and 16 plays, but they ended with Wil Lutz’s 30-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. New Orleans was within 23-13 with 11:22 to play after Brees’ 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Coleman, with a four-play drive covering 51 yards. Saints running back Mark Ingram was placed in concussion protocol after a 13-yard rushing play midway through the third quarter.
The Panthers lost defensive end Mario Addison to a fourth-quarter foot injury.
Carolina held a 20-3 halftime lead with plenty of help from the Saints.
“It’s all about execution,” Snead said. “Executing the offense like we know we’re good at doing. We just need more consistency week in and week out.”
NEW ORLEANS – (Wire Service Report) – Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton officially was cleared from the league’s concussion protocol by an independent physician, the team announced on Saturday. Barring any setbacks, Newton will return from a one-game absence on Sunday as the slumping Panthers (1-4) face the New Orleans Saints (1-3).
Newton was a full participant in practice on Thursday and Friday.
The reigning NFL MVP sat out the Panthers’ 17-14 home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night because of repercussions from the concussion he sustained in a Week 4 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Coach Ron Rivera said running back Jonathan Stewart, listed as questionable, will start against the Saints after missing the last three games because of a hamstring injury.
Starting left tackle Michael Oher (concussion), cornerback James Bradberry (foot), cornerback Robert McClain (hamstring), defensive tackle Vernon Butler (ankle) and defensive tackle Paul Soliai (foot) were ruled out on Friday’s injury report.
DENVER – (Wire Service Report) – Rookie Paxton Lynch will start at quarterback on Sunday when the Denver Broncos put their unbeaten record on the line against the visiting Atlanta Falcons.
It will be the first career start for Lynch, who replaced an injured Trevor Siemian in the second quarter of last Sunday’s 27-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mike Klis of 9news.com in Denver, citing multiple sources, first reported that Lynch will get the nod.
Siemian sprained his left (non-throwing) shoulder and was clearly limited in practice throughout the week. The 2015 seventh-round draft pick out of Northwestern has the reigning Super Bowl champions off to a 4-0 start.
Lynch acquitted himself well in his NFL debut, completing 14 of 24 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown.
(All reports from Digital Sports Desk wire service, Sports Xchange and Sports Direct)
CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers officially ruled out quarterback Cam Newton for Monday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to a concussion. The 27-year-old Newton did not practice all week after he suffered his first documented concussion in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 48-33 loss at Atlanta, when he took a legal helmet-to-helmet hit from Falcons rookie linebacker Deion Jones on a two-point conversion run. Newton has remained in concussion protocol since then.
Derek Anderson will make his third start for Carolina since joining the team in 2011. He was 2-0 in his other two starts, both against the Buccaneers in 2014 when Newton was injured. Anderson finished last Sunday’s game, completing 17 of 23 pass attempts for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 49 of 74 pass attempts for 501 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in his other two starts for the Panthers.
FOXBORO – Quarterback Tom Brady and defensive end Rob Ninkovich were activated by the New England Patriots after serving four-game suspensions, and both will play Sunday at Cleveland against the winless Browns. Brady was suspended for his part in the highly publicized Deflategate scandal, while Ninkovich violated the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. The Patriots previously made room on the roster by placing rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett on injured reserve and releasing tight end Clay Harbor. The Patriots, who won their first three games without Brady before being beaten 16-0 by the Buffalo Bills last week, also released guard Jonathan Cooper and signed rookie defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton off their practice squad.
New England also released offensive guard Jonathan Cooper, who was acquired in an offseason trade that sent defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals.
TAMPA – Tampa Bay officially ruled out only wide receiver Cecil Shorts III due to a hamstring injury for Monday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers, but the Buccaneers likely will be missing other key players as well. The Bucs are expected to be without their top two running backs in Doug Martin (hamstring) and Charles Sims (knee), who are listed as doubtful.
Running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who signed with the Bucs after the first week of the season, is expected to start. In addition, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (calf) was listed as doubtful on the Bucs’ final injury report Saturday. Defensive end Robert Ayers (ankle), who had 9.5 sacks last season, has missed the last two weeks and also is listed as doubtful.
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Rams released cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, almost seven months after signing him to a three-year contract.
Los Angeles promoted defensive lineman Morgan Fox from the practice squad to take the roster spot of Sensabaugh, who joined the Rams in March.
Sensabaugh signed a free-agent deal worth nearly $15 million, with incentives pushing the pact upwards of $19 million.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts activated defensive tackle Arthur Jones from the commissioner exempt list after he served his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Jones signed with the Colts as an unrestricted free agent on March 13, 2014.
He has played in 55 career NFL games (23 starts) and totaled 142 tackles, 10 sacks and two forced fumbles with the Colts (2014-15) and Baltimore Ravens (2010-13).
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Steelers placed cornerback Senquez Golson and offensive tackle Ryan Harris on injured reserve.
Golson has been sidelined since undergoing surgery on his foot in August. A second-round draft pick out of Ole Miss in 2015, Golson was injured in practice and has yet to play a down in the NFL.
Harris was hurt in last week’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He was starting in place of injured right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who will also miss Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Ravens activated tight end Darren Waller on Saturday from the commissioner exempt list to the 53-man roster after he served his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Waller, a sixth-round pick in the 2015 draft out of Georgia Tech, has played in six career games, posting two receptions for 18 yards and registering three special teams tackles.