CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said he's never lost faith in his wide receivers despite the drops that have plagued the unit since the middle of the preseason.
There were a few more on Sunday, but Newton keeps on firing their way.
That trust has paid off.
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Newton connecting on TD passes of 25 yards to Ted Ginn Jr. and 36 yards to Philly Brown to lift the Panthers to a 24-17 victory over the Houston Texans. Newton also ran for one score, somersaulting into the end zone on a 2-yard run - one that will surely be replayed on highlight reels all week.
That leaves the Panthers 2-0 without star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.
''The truth of the matter is that we have to do our job,'' Newton said. ''My confidence wasn't shattered in giving opportunities to guys that are doing what they're supposed to be doing. I am supposed to throw them the football and they are supposed to catch it. They are professional athletes and that is what we get paid to do.''
Brown struggled the most in the preseason, but hasn't dropped a pass in the regular season.
He seemed to regain his swagger when he leaped and grabbed a pass with a defender draped over him in the end zone to put Carolina up 24-10 midway through the fourth quarter.
Ginn dropped a pass early in the game - his third already this season - before making up for it with a TD catch.
''After I make a bad play I just want to do everything to try and make a play,'' Ginn said. ''Being on this team and having the type of brothers that you have here, we never give up on each other and as long as we go out and continue to play and show that we're open, Cam is going to try to get us the ball.''
Some things to know from the Panthers' win over the Texans:
MALLETT GETS START: Ryan Mallett started for Brian Hoyer and threw 58 times, completing 27 for 244 yards with one touchdown. He also ran for a score. But the troubling aspect of Mallett's day was a slow start and a fourth quarter interception that led to Brown's touchdown and a 14-point deficit.
''I thought he played a tough game,'' Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. ''It's a good defense that he went against. There were times where he really did a good job, and there was some things, like all of us, that he can improve on but I think he hung in there. He was resilient. He tried to bring us back there at the end we just were a play short there.''
ADAMS GOES DOWN: Texans right tackle Jeff Adams was carted off the field with his right leg in an air brace. Texans coach Bill O'Brien wouldn't disclose the nature of the injury, but said he expects Adams to be out quite a while. He could be replaced by rookie Kendall Lamm, who saw action at right tackle on Sunday.
KUECHLY MISSES FIRST GAME: Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was inactive with a concussion, missing the first game of his career. The missed start broke a string of 49 consecutive regular season starts by Kuechly, dating to the start of his rookie season in 2012. Coach Ron Rivera said he will be reevaluated this week.
NEWTON RUNS: The rushing touchdown was the 34th of Newton's career, tying him with Daunte Culpepper (1999-2009) for the ninth most all-time by a quarterback, according to STATS.
HOPKINS HELD IN CHECK: DeAndre Hopkins had 98 yards receiving and two TDs in Houston's loss to Kansas City in Week 1, but was pretty much held in check by Carolina's Josh Norman on Sunday. Hopkins was targeted 11 times and caught just five passes for 53 yards. The Panthers believe Norman has the potential to be a shutdown cornerback. He's proving to be just that in his contract year.
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