The Carolina-Washington storyline was Cam Newton vs. Ron Rivera.
Newton returned to the Panthers last week and on Sunday made his first start in his second stint in Carolina. Rivera spent nine seasons in Carolina, drafting Newton with the No. 1 overall choice in 2011.
But Taylor Heinicke played the part of hero, delivering a 27-21 victory to Rivera and the Washington Football Team. It was Washington’s second win in a row as they climbed back to 4-6. Carolina fell to 5-6.
Heinicke completed 16 of 22 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 29 yards on six carries.
Heinicke threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Cam Sims, a 12-yarder to Terry McLaurin and a 4-yarder to DeAndre Carter. Joey Slye kicked field goals of 36 and 29 yards in the fourth quarter to deliver the win against his former team.
Washington was 6-of-13 on third down and 2-for-2 on fourth down as it gained 369 yards.
Terry McLaurin had five catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Newton had a chance to deliver a comeback victory, but his storybook tale ended without the ending everyone in Carolina wanted Sunday. Kamren Curl stopped Christian McCaffrey just short of a first down on fourth-and-three from their own 34 with 2:53 left.
Then, after a Washington field goal, and with the Panthers trailing by six, Carolina faced fourth-and-three at the Washington 49 with 1:11 left. Newton was sacked by Daron Payne for a 3-yard loss with 1:05 remaining.
Newton finished 21-of-27 for 189 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for a touchdown, rushing for 46 yards on 10 carries.