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(Sunday, December 18th)
Final Score: Carolina 28, Houston 13
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Rookie Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes to help the Carolina Panthers beat the newly crowned AFC South champion Houston Texans, 28-13, at Reliant Stadium.
Newton completed 13-of-23 passes for 149 yards and added 55 rushing yards for Carolina (5-9), which has won three of its last four games.
"For us to come in and beat this team -- the No. 1 ranked defense, a quality running game -- does speak to our abilities and what we can become," said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.
Rookie T.J. Yates finished with 212 passing yards and two costly interceptions for the Texans (10-4), who had their franchise-best winning streak snapped at seven games.
The Panthers squandered a 23-7 lead at halftime in losing 31-23 to the Atlanta Falcons last week. On Sunday, they led 21-0 after 30 minutes, and Houston began to chip away following the break.
The Texans' defense forced a punt on the opening drive of the second half and Jacoby Jones returned the ball 42 yards to the Carolina 35. Houston marched to the seven-yard line before settling for a 26-yard Neil Rackers field goal.
Houston reached the red zone on its second possession of the third quarter and again was kept out of the end zone as Rackers was good from 34 yards.
Arian Foster scored a touchdown from a yard out to draw the Texans within 21-13 with 13:48 to go in the game.
DeAngelo Williams ended Carolina's scoring drought by running up the middle for a 24-yard touchdown on its ensuing drive.
Houston looked to respond on its next possession, but James Anderson picked off Yates in the end zone with 7:25 left. The Texans did not have the ball again as the Panthers ran out the remaining time.
"We got buried in the first half and tried to fight our way out of it, but ultimately, when you turn the ball over and you're as sloppy as we were and give up the big plays we gave up, you're not going to win in this league," said Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.
Foster fumbled the ball on the game's second play from scrimmage and Anderson recovered for the Panthers at the Houston 26-yard line. The turnover led to Newton hitting a sprinting Steve Smith along the right sideline for an early touchdown.
The Texans were in field goal range later in the first quarter, but Rackers' 49-yard attempt sailed wide right.
Carolina's ensuing nine-play drive bled into the second quarter and Newton connected with Jeremy Shockey for a nine-yard touchdown.
Later in the first half, linebacker Jordan Senn returned an interception by Yates to the Houston 48. Carolina converted a pair of third downs before Richie Brockel took a handoff from Newton and ran for a seven-yard touchdown.
Houston standout wide receiver Andre Johnson missed his second straight game with a strained left hamstring on Sunday...Foster gained 109 yards on 16 carries. He surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the second consecutive season and joined Domanick Williams as the only running backs to record multiple 1,000-yard seasons in Texans history...Houston has 38 sacks this season, a club record.
12/18 18:53:53 ET
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