Newton has 3 TDs as Panthers move to 3-0
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Cam Newton has the Panthers off to their best start in more than a decade.
Newton threw for 315 yards and a pair of touchdowns to tight end Greg Olsen and also ran for a score, and the Carolina Panthers defeated the New Orleans Saints 27-22 on Sunday.
Luke McCown, starting in place of the injured Drew Brees, completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards, but it wasn’t enough to save the Saints (0-3) from falling three games behind the division leading Panthers and Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South.
It was the first game Brees has missed because of injury since joining the Saints in 2006.
Newton ran for a 13-yard TD on a bootleg as the Panthers started 3-0 for the first time since reaching the Super Bowl in the 2003 season.
Olsen had eight catches for a career-high 134 yards and had two 11-yard TD catches.
Panthers cornerback Josh Norman sealed the game with a leaping interception in the end zone with 1:09 remaining.
The Saints led 16-10 after Marcus Murphy returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown after the Panthers’ Teddy Williams had been flagged for running along the sideline on the play before, forcing a re-kick.
But after New Orleans missed the extra point, the Panthers came right back with Newton connecting with Olsen for his second TD of the game to give Carolina its first lead at 17-16.
After Graham Gano’s field goal, Newton appeared to change the play at the line of scrimmage on a third-and-2 at the Saints 13. The athletic 6-foot-5, 245-pound quarterback faked the handoff into the line and rolled to the left and coasted into the end zone for the 35th rushing touchdown of his career, tying him with Steve Grogan and Randall Cunningham for seventh-most in NFL history among quarterbacks.
The Saints cut the lead to 27-22 on a 2-yard TD run by Khiry Robinson, but Norman leaped to intercept McCown’s pass to Brandin Cooks in the corner of the end zone.
The previous time McCown started a game was Sept. 18, 2011.
On Sunday, McCown started fast, completing 14 of 15 passes for 100 yards on the first two drives, using shot passes underneath the coverage. Mark Ingram’s 5-yard touchdown run put the Saints up 10-0.
Carolina rallied behind Newton and Olsen, who combined for an 11-yard scoring pass and a 52-yarder to set up Gano’s field goal to tie the game at 10 just before halftime.
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