Still-perfect Panthers hit last-second field goal to beat Giants, 38-35

Cam Newton
Cam Newton (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Cam Newton stayed away from the nastiness around him, shrugged off a record-tying Giants comeback, and did what he does best: carry Carolina to victory.

In a wild game that saw New York tie the score after trailing by 28 points, Newton threw five touchdown passes for the third time in five weeks. The Panthers remained perfect by outlasting the Giants 38-35 Sunday on Graham Gano’s 43-yard field goal as time expired.

Making yet another strong statement for NFL Most Valuable Player honors, Newton led the Panthers (14-0) to their 18th straight regular-season victory. He has thrown for 19 touchdowns in the last five games and a career-best 33 in this so-far special season.

It looked oh so easy when NFC South champion Carolina led 35-7 with 5:32 left in the third quarter. Then the Giants matched San Francisco’s 28-point rally — from the same score — against New Orleans in 1980.

One big difference: The 49ers won that game in overtime, and the Giants (6-8) saw their playoff chances take a huge hit by falling short. They trail Washington by one game in the NFC East.

Carolina visits Atlanta and hosts Tampa Bay to finish the schedule. All three previous NFL teams to reach 14-0 — Miami in 1972, New England in 2007 and Indianapolis in 2009 — made the Super Bowl. Only the Dolphins won the championship, though.

The Panthers would secure home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs if Arizona loses Sunday night at Philadelphia. The 18 straight wins match the third-longest string in NFL history.

The Giants tied it when Odell Beckham Jr., at the center of the contentiousness along with Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, got behind Norman for a 14-yard touchdown catch with 1:46 to go. Beckham had lost his composure several times as Norman was getting the best of him in their high-profile matchup. But he got free for a 40-yard catch and run that led to the tying TD.

Then Newton calmly guided the Panthers 49 yards to the winning kick.

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