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Cam Newton, Panthers stay perfect after Packers rally

The Panthers are perfect -- but it didn't come easy. Carolina moved to 8-0 on the year after squelching a wild Packers comeback in Sunday's 37-29 win over Green Bay (6-2). Here's what you need to know:

  1. Cam Newton's killer fourth-quarter pick was nearly the story of this memorable showdown. Clinging to a 37-29 advantage -- after leading 37-14 -- the Panthers' passer tossed an ill-fated lob that landed in the hands of first-round Packers cornerback Damarious Randall, giving Green Bay the ball at the Carolina 22 with 3:38 to play.

The Panthers kept the Pack from scoring, though, saving an otherwise outstanding afternoon by Newton. The massive-bodied quarterback hurt Green Bay with 57 yards on the ground and scorched the Packers' secondary with a rash of deep throws. Cam paved the way for Carolina's first touchdown with a beautiful 59-yard lob to Jerricho Cotchery before setting up the team's second score with a 52-yarder to rookie Devin Funchess. Newton's subsequent 39-yard dart to Corey Brown put the Panthers up 27-7 at the half. Passing for 297 yards and three touchdowns -- and running for another -- Cam threw aggressively from wire to wire and carried Carolina on his back.

  1. After generating just 140 total yards against the Broncos last week, Green Bay's offense looked lost over the first two quarters. Initially favoring quick passes over daring deep throws -- just as NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport promised -- Aaron Rodgers didn't get on track until hitting Randall Cobb on a 53-yard touchdown strike to open the third quarter. Green Bay grew hot from there despite Rodgers facing constant heat from a Carolina pass rush that piled up five sacks and another nine hits on the signal-caller. Rodgers used pristine pocket footwork and play-extending magic to rally the Pack, but his numbers -- 376 yards through the air with four scores -- belie how disjointed this offense looked for long stretches of time.
  1. Eddie Lacy's underwhelming campaign continues. The Packers running back was held to just 10 yards off five totes and wound up playing a supporting role to James Starks after losing a costly first-half fumble. Starks (10 for 39) looks like the better runner right now, but nobody ran harder in this affair than Carolina's Jonathan Stewart.
  1. Despite Green Bay's late surge, we can't say enough about this smothering Panthers defense. It's rare to see Rodgers taken to the mat on a coverage sack, but lineman Star Lotulelei pulled it off to end Green Bay's opening drive. That play spoke volumes about a Panthers secondary that held Cobb to just 18 first-half yards and kept Rodgers throwing to his second and third options before the Pack caught fire.
  1. Julius Peppers didn't make much noise in his return to Carolina, but the Packers pass rusher annoyed the home crowd after he stole the ball from Newton following the quarterback's first-half rushing touchdown -- and refused to give it back. Peppers later found himself breaking up a skirmish along the Packers' sideline when cameras caught defensive lineman B.J. Raji shoving safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
  1. Winning their league-best 12th straight regular season game, Carolina -- the conference's only undefeated team -- sits in ideal position for a first-round bye. The Panthers totally deserve it after knocking out the Seahawks and Packers over the past month. Green Bay, meanwhile, has a chance to get healthy with two games against the Lions and one against the Bears over the next four weeks.
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