Relieved Panthers survive Giant scare to stay unbeaten

Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:00pm EST
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By Larry Fine

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - The Panthers kept their unbeaten season intact but not without a scare from the New York Giants, who might have taught Carolina a valuable lesson in their pursuit of National Football League perfection.

Carolina, led by their dual threat quarterback Cam Newton, rolled to a 35-7 lead late in the third quarter but due to mistakes, penalties and some inspired New York play, the Giants scored 28 unanswered points to turn the rout into a 35-35 nail biter with 2:31 left.

With their unblemished campaign in jeopardy, however, Newton coolly steered the Panthers down the field on the final drive to set up a 43-yard field by Graham Gano as time expired for a 38-35 win that improved Carolina to 14-0.

"It shouldn't have been a thriller, I can tell you that," said Newton, who threw five touchdown passes and gained 100 yards on eight runs.

"It was great to be in a game like this. It was kind of like our first dose of what playoff football is going to be about. We've got to create that killer instinct. We have to be better, and we will be better."

Newton completed 25 of 45 passes for 340 yards and set up Carolina's first touchdown with a 47-yard rumble to the two-yard line.

Even Newton contributed to the lapses that allowed the Giants, and the crowd of nearly 80,000 at MetLife Stadium, back into the game when he fumbled a handoff for a critical turnover.

A blocked field goal also helped swing the momentum back to New York, and after a quiet first half, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.caught six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in the second half comeback.   Continued...

Dec 20, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (19) scores a touchdown against the New York Giants during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports