The Panthers saw the Patriots erase a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, but they bounced back with a 10-play, 39-yard drive to set up Graham Gano‘s game-winning field goal on the final play of the game to improve to 3-1.
After the game, coach Ron Rivera was more focused on the result against the defending Super Bowl champs on the road than on the fact that the game almost slipped through their fingers.
“I think it was a very good step for us, I really do,” Rivera said in comments distributed by the Patriots. “I think ours guys understand, as I said earlier, this is who everybody measures themselves against. To come out and battle these guys, here in New England, I think says a lot for our guys and I am very proud of every guy in that room.”
One of the biggest reasons the Panthers were able to get the win was the play of Cam Newton. After ups and downs in the first two wins of the season, Newton had a terrible day against the Saints in Week Three but rebounded with 316 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, 44 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown on Sunday.
Rivera said Newton benefitted from a full week of practice after limitations earlier in the season due to his offseason shoulder surgery.
“I think it factored in tremendously,” Rivera said. “I mean, again, three days of work and just his energy level. Again, he had to go through the process. And he’s going through the process and he’ll get better. You know, he is still not where he needs to be, but we’re going to be smart with him and we are going to continue with whatever is our new normal is of his weekly exercise. But if we can continue to have these types of weeks then he’s going to continue to get his timing down.”
The Panthers will meet another 3-1 team when they travel to Detroit next weekend and more of the same from Newton will give them a good chance of making it a couple of road wins in a row.