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(Sunday, December 4th)
Final Score: Carolina 38, Tampa Bay 19
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Cam Newton rushed for three touchdowns and threw for a fourth as the Carolina Panthers rolled over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 38-19, at Raymond James Stadium.
Newton's three rushing scores gave him 13 on the season, which established a new NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season. The previous record was held by former Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan, who ran for 12 scores in 1976 while playing a 14-game schedule.
Newton ended his day with 204 yards and one interception on 12-of-21 passing to go with 54 yards on the ground.
"He's growing and getting better and better each week," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said of his quarterback. "He's growing in this offense and he's getting a feel for what we want to do. But, the big thing has been the way his teammates have played around him. You have to take your hat off to what the offensive line has done and to our playmakers, these guys are getting things done to give us a chance to win."
In addition to Newton, Jonathan Stewart had an effective day running the football, finishing with 80 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, while DeAngelo Williams carried it 11 times for 29 yards for Carolina (4-8), which has won two straight.
Brandon LaFell caught three passes for 64 yards and Legedu Naanee hauled in two passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. Naanee also completed a 27 yard pass to Newton.
Josh Johnson completed 16-of-27 passes for 229 yards, one touchdown and one interception in place of Josh Freeman, who missed the game after being injured in last week's 23-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Johnson led the Bucs (4-8) in rushing with 45 yards on five carries and Dezmon Briscoe caught a touchdown pass. The Bucs have lost six consecutive games.
The Panthers struck first on the opening possession of the game, as they went 83 yards in seven plays -- keyed by 19 and 31-yard runs by Stewart -- before Newton leapt over the pile from the Bucs' one-yard line to give his team the 7-0 advantage.
Carolina found the end zone again on its next drive. After being stopped on the first three plays of the drive, Newton ran for six yards on 4th-and-2 to keep the drive alive. On the next play, Newton fired it out to Naanee, who tossed it back to Newton, and the quarterback ran for 27 yards to the Bucs' two.
Faced with a 3rd-and-1 from the Bucs' one, Newton's pass was incomplete, but the Panthers were bailed out by a defensive holding penalty, resulting in a new set of downs. Stewart then went off the left guard for a one-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0 with 5:07 to play in the first quarter.
The Bucs got on the board with 1:23 to go in the first when Connor Barth was good from 50 yards out to cap a seven-play, 41-yard drive to make it 14-3.
Tampa Bay began its next drive at the Carolina 47 and got down to the 29, where Barth was good again -- this time from 47 yards out -- to cut the deficit to 14-6 with 10:52 to play in the half.
But, the Panthers responded on their next possession as Newton fired it over the middle to Naanee for a 19-yard touchdown strike on 3rd-and-8 to cap an eight-play, 80-yard march and make it 21-6.
Barth hit his third field goal of the day from 46 yards away on the ensuing Bucs drive to make it 21-9 with 4:25 to go before halftime.
After a three-and-out by Carolina, Tampa Bay got the ball back at their own 47 with 3:20 left on the clock. The Bucs moved down to the Carolina 26, but again were held out of the end zone as Barth drilled a 44-yard field goal -- his fourth of the day -- with 1:03 to play before the break to make it 21-12.
Carolina, though, got the last laugh in the first half, as Newton found LaFell wide open on the left sideline for 31 yards with three seconds to go in the half, and Olindo Mare hit a 43-yarder as time expired to put Carolina on top, 24-12 at the break.
Tampa Bay got the ball to begin the second half, moved it down to the Carolina 30 and looked poised to score, but Johnson's pass intended for Briscoe on third down was picked off by Thomas Keiser, who returned it nine yards to the 39.
"The foolish things that happened in that game, as far as penalties and some of the things we caused, are just unacceptable," Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris said. "We are not playing like a smart football team right now. We have four weeks to prove that we can play smarter. If we don't play smarter, we won't win many games."
From there, the Panthers went 61 yards in six plays before Newton went up the middle across the goal line for his second rushing score of the day to make it 31-12.
The Panthers continued to pour on the offense in the final quarter, with Newton's record-setting rushing score making it 38-12 with 9:48 to go in regulation.
"I had the opportunity to go out and get some rushing touchdowns, but I just wanted to focus on doing my job and getting the football in the end zone," Newton said.
Tampa Bay finally got into the end zone with 6:35 remaining when Johnson hit Briscoe with a 23-yard touchdown pass to account for the final score.
Carolina has a 13-9 lead in its all-time series with Tampa Bay...Former Buccaneers tight end Jimmie Giles was inducted into the team's ring of fame at halftime...Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith played in his 71st consecutive game with at least one reception...Johnson is 0-5 as a starter in his career...Carolina was 6-of-11 on third down, while Tampa Bay converted five of their 13 third down situations...The Panthers outgained the Bucs, 385-285.
12/04 18:41:54 ET