Panthers go up 7-6 on Steve Smith touchdown

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The Panthers avoided red zone problems, by avoiding the red zone.

Cam Newton just hit Steve Smith for a 31-yard touchdown pass, giving the Panthers a 7-6 lead over the 49ers in the second quarter.

The 49ers had just stifled the Panthers, hanging onto their 6-0 lead with an incredible defensive stop at the goal line.

They were able to stop both Newton and fullback Mike Tolbert on short-yardage runs, and drilled Newton in the backfield short of converting a fourth-and-inches attempt on the first play of the second quarter.

But the Panthers held, forcing a three-and-out (which included a near pic-six by Quintin Mikell) , and used a 24-yard punt return by Ted Ginn to get back into position.

Then Newton dropped a perfect pass in to Smith, who worried people this week with the condition of his knee. Smith now has three catches for 65 yards, which should establish that he’s OK.