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Rivera, Washington beat Panthers, spoil Cam Newton’s 3 TD homecoming

The Panthers had two chances to put together a game-winning drive with under five minutes remaining but both were unsuccessful.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton celebrates after scoring during the first half of an...
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton celebrates after scoring during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)(Rusty Jones | AP)
Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 4:56 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Cam Newton made a memorable return to the Queen City in his first game back at Bank of America Stadium but the Carolina Panthers failed to make a late-game comeback after the defense was unable to contain the Washington Football Team’s offense.

Newton was making his first start since returning to the team two weeks ago, but despite scoring three total touchdowns, former Panthers (5-6) head coach Ron Rivera, QB Taylor Heinicke, and kicker Joey Slye got the last laugh, defeating Carolina 27-21.

“We got to be better,” Newton said. “Fans held up their end of the bargain. We just had to do our part. The coach had his keys to victory, which we didn’t execute in totality.”

Heinicke, who spent 2018 in Carolina, made easy work of cornerback Donte Jackson, completing 16-of-22 passes and throwing three touchdowns, with five of those passes going to receiver Terry McLaurin for 103 yards and a TD.

Washington (4-6) also rushed for 190 yards and the Panthers had seven penalties for a loss of 65 yards.

“Very disappointing,” head coach Matt Rhule said. “The team we’ve been the last two times on the road has been awesome. At home, we haven’t played so well.”

The Panthers had two chances to put together a game-winning drive with under five minutes remaining but both were unsuccessful.

Carolina tied the game at 21 in the fourth quarter, following a Newton to Christian McCaffrey touchdown, but their former kicker Slye, who was facing them for the second time this season with a different team, nailed a 36-yard-field goal to take the lead with just under five minutes remaining.

“I thought Cam was excellent,” Rhule said. “There was one communication error in the first half. I thought the throw to Christian (McCaffrey) was elite. I thought he did a good job.”

On the first late-game drive with 3:02 remaining, Rhule opted to punt on fourth-and-third but then changed his mind, sending the offense back out. Christian McCaffrey was unable to convert on the conversion on the first drive attempt, giving Washington the ball back, and allowing Slye to hit another FG.

With 1:50 remaining, the Panthers had one more chance to win the game but they were unable to get past mid-field and the Football Team sacked Newton on fourth down.

“They were able to run the football against us,” Rhule said. “When that happens typically, we don’t play well.”

Carolina led 14-7 after Newton threw a 1Q touchdown to D.J. Moore, and then rushed for his own 24-yard touchdown, leading to him doing his iconic ‘Superman’ pose at mid-field on the Carolina logo, but the Panthers defense, which was one of the league’s best entering the game, was exposed by Rivera.

Newton finished the day completing 21-of-27 passes for 189 yards, two touchdowns and a rushing TD. McCaffrey had over 100 yards from scrimmage with a receiving TD.

“I am excited for what the future holds. It starts tomorrow. This one hurts,” Newton said.

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