Panthers 33, Redskins 20
CHARLOTTE -- Cam Newton had just finished an onfield TV interview and shaken hands with Redskins players when he decided to make a quick stop on the way to the locker room. He jogged over to the end zone and gave a line of high-fives to the front row of cheering fans on his way to the tunnel.
"It feels great," the rookie said afterward, flashing the wide smile that had been absent for the better part of a month.
The No. 1 overall draft pick had reason to celebrate after helping the Carolina Panthers beat the Redskins, 33-20, on Sunday. There was no heading into the final minutes trying to erase another narrow deficit only to end up with a close loss. Instead, the Panthers (2-5) finally played with a lead almost the entire way and pulled away after halftime to match their win total for all of last year.
And that meant Newton wouldn't sit and stew at his locker as he had after games during Carolina's three-game losing streak.
"Like I told (receiver Steve Smith), man, it felt like at times during the game we all were clicking," Newton said. "Not only on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense did what they had to do."
Newton ran for a touchdown and threw for another in the second half for the Panthers, finishing with 256 yards passing and running for 59 more. His touchdown on a 16-yard keeper in the third quarter was his seventh rushing score of the season, tying a record for most TDs rushing by a rookie quarterback since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.
Jonathan Stewart also ran for a third-quarter touchdown as Carolina turned a 9-6 halftime lead into a 17-point margin by midway through the fourth.
Washington's John Beck threw for 279 yards and scored on a short keeper in his first start in four years, showing enough mobility to keep plays alive and buy time for his receivers. But he didn't get the Redskins (3-3) back to the end zone again until they were down 30-13.
Newton coolly led Carolina to three straight touchdown drives after halftime. He completed 18 of 23 passes in an efficient performance, with Smith hauling in seven for 143 yards. In the fourth, he had an easy touchdown toss to Brandon LaFell that blew the game open.
More importantly, Newton didn't commit a turnover after throwing three interceptions in last week's loss at Atlanta.
Car-FG Mare 20, 7:31.
Was-FG Gano 31, 12:24.
Car-FG Mare 45, 5:02.
Was-FG Gano 49, 1:02.
Car-FG Mare 45, :02.
Car-Newton 16 run (Mare kick), 12:17.
Was-Beck 4 run (Gano kick), 8:14.
Car-Stewart 2 run (Mare kick), 2:17.
Car-LaFell 2 pass from Newton (Mare kick), 8:13.
Was-Davis 7 pass from Beck (Gano kick), 5:05
Car-FG Mare 40, 1:56.
RUSHING-Washington, Hightower 17-88, Beck 3-10, Helu 1-(minus 1), Torain 2-(minus 5). Carolina, Stewart 14-68, Newton 10-59, D.Williams 10-35, Felton 2-7, Smith 1-6.
PASSING-Washington, Beck 22-37-1-279. Carolina, Newton 18-23-0-256.
RECEIVING-Washington, Davis 6-80, Gaffney 4-68, Austin 3-26, Paulsen 2-48, Paul 2-25, Moss 2-17, Helu 2-6, Armstrong 1-9. Carolina, Smith 7-143, Shockey 4-32, Naanee 3-21, LaFell 2-39, Felton 1-17, Olsen 1-4.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-None.