Cam Newton only looked rusty for a quarter. And then he started looking like an MVP again.
Newton bounced back from an early interception with his best game of the season so far, leading the Panthers to a 33-30 win at New England which moved them to 3-1.
Graham Gano hit a 48-yard field goal to end the game, some redemption after a year of frustrating misses in 2016 (and a missed extra point early). But nothing was more welcome than the return to form of Newton, who struggled in his first three games after shoulder surgery.
Newton finished 22-of-29 for 316 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for another score. And even though the Patriots recovered to tie the game late on a Tom Brady touchdown to Danny Amendola, Newton calmly moved them into position for the game-winning field goal.
The Patriots (2-2) entered the day last in the league in scoring defense and total defense, and continued to have problems. Stephon Gilmore committed a pair of costly penalties, and their pass defense continued to spring leaks. The Panthers hadn’t gained more than 288 yards in any game this season, but gashed the Patriots for 444, averaging 7.4 yards per snap.