HOUSTON – Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, DeAngelo Williams ran for a score and the Carolina Panthers ended Houston's seven-game winning streak with a 28-13 win over the Texans on Sunday.
Newton completed 13 of 23 passes for 149 yards, outplaying opposing rookie quarterback T.J. Yates. The Panthers (5-9) built a 21-0 halftime lead, then ended Houston's second-half rally when linebacker James Anderson intercepted Yates in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter.
The Texans (10-4) are playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs after clinching the AFC South last weekend.
But their top-ranked defense looked vulnerable without coordinator Wade Phillips, who's on medical leave after undergoing kidney and gall bladder surgery this week. Linebackers coach Reggie Herring made the defensive calls on Sunday.
Houston gave up only 316 yards, but Carolina converted two Texans turnovers into 14 points.
Arian Foster fumbled on the second snap, and Newton threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith less than 3 minutes into the game. It was the third fumble lost by Foster this year, and Ben Tate came in for Houston's second series.
Yates completed his first seven passes, but the Texans struggled to sustain drives against the league's 24th-ranked defense.
Newton, meanwhile, completed passes at key moments, despite finishing with a season-low total in yards passing.
He shrugged off two early sacks to make pinpoint passes to Smith and Greg Olsen for big gains then found Jeremy Shockey for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 12:19 left in the half.
Yates made his first key mistake after getting Houston across midfield in the second quarter. Carolina linebacker Jordan Senn intercepted his off-target pass to Kevin Walter, and Newton calmly guided the Panthers down the field again.
Richie Brockel's sweeping TD run finished a 9-play drive to put Carolina up 21-0 and the Texans faced their largest deficit of the season. The Panthers were also the first opponent to reach 20 points on Houston's home field since the Texans lost 25-20 to Oakland in Week 5.
The Texans' offense looked better in the third quarter, twice advancing into Carolina territory. But Yates threw incomplete on two third-down plays and Houston came away with only two field goals from Neil Rackers to cut the Panthers' lead to 21-6.
Houston's defense stiffened after the break, and Foster got the offense moving again with a weaving, 22-yard run to the Panthers 24. Yates zipped a pass to Walter to the 11, and Foster scored three plays later.
Carolina produced only 23 yards and one first down in the third quarter.
But Newton quieted the revived crowd with a 26-yard pass to Shockey early in the fourth. Williams sprinted 24 yards through a gaping hole on the next snap to put Carolina in front 28-13.
The Texans were looking for a quick answer, driving inside the Panthers 10 in less than 2 minutes. Anderson then picked off Yates in the end zone, and the rookie quarterback walked to the sideline with his head down.
Yates, making his third career start, completed 19 of 30 passes for 212 yards.
Newton and the Panthers chewed up the final 7 minutes to earn their first victory of the season over a team with a winning record. Newton also rushed for 55 yards on seven carries.