Cam Newton carries Panthers to road win over Pats

*Tom Brady's fourth-quarter comeback wasn't enough this time. Here's what we learned after Panthers kicker Graham Gano nailed a game-winner as time expired in a stirring 33-30 victory by Carolina (3-1) over the Patriots (2-2). *

  1. Cam Newton's shoulder looks just fine. After an early interception, Newton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another on a day when Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula absolutely owned Bill Belichick and his defense. (That feels strange to type.) The Panthers didn't punt until midway through the fourth quarter, with Newton picking up a few key third-down conversions on called runs. He finished with 44 yards rushing and 350 yards of the team's 444 yards of offense, many of which came after Patriots mistakes in the secondary.
  1. The Patriots might have the worst defense in football through one quarter of the season. They lack any edge defenders rushing the passer and continue to be flummoxed by confusion in the secondary. Free-agent pickup Stephon Gilmore was involved in at least one miscommunication that led to a big play and was called for two costly penalties that kept drives alive, including on the Panthers' game-winning march.
  1. Tom Brady is being asked to do way too much. He was hit seven times and sacked three more in another 300-yard game. Brady engineered two beautiful fourth-quarter drives to tie this game up, but at other times all the pressure appeared to be rushing him into some missed open throws. New England has no explosive element in the run game (80 yards total) and a defense that can't get stops. At a certain point, Brady is going to buckle under all this weight.
  1. Panthers coach Ron Rivera would have been criticized heavily if Graham Gano missed a 48-yard field goal as time expired after settling for such a long kick, especially after Gano missed an extra point earlier in the game. So Gano deserves kudos for knocking the game-winner straight and true. It would have been good from 60.
  1. Carolina is 3-1 despite missing tight end Greg Olsen, and missing Newton for much of training camp. They are going to be a dangerous team if Newton's form continues to improve.
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