Charlotte, NC – Cam Newton threw for 170 yards with a touchdown and also ran for a score to lead the Carolina Panthers to a 17-6 win over the Oakland Raiders.
Steve Smith had four catches for 45 yards and a score and Greg Olsen hauled in six passes for 53 yards for the Panthers (6-9), who have won three straight and four of their last five. Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly had nine solo tackles and an interception that led to a score in the triumph.
"It was a momentum builder to get wins in back-to-back games and then to add a third one," Kuechly said. "It is a good feeling. We've been playing good in situations all year, and now we are able to capitalize on it."
Matt Leinart replaced an injured Carson Palmer for Oakland in the first quarter and completed 16-of-32 passes for 115 yards with an interception. Terrelle Pryor also made a limited appearance for the Raiders (4-11). He caught one pass for 22 yards, rushed for two yards and completed a 5-yard pass in Oakland's seventh loss in eight games.
"I'm disappointed, we have to be able to run the football better," said Raiders head coach Dennis Allen. "They dominated the line of scrimmage in this particular game and we struggled to run it. We have to do a better job running the football."
The game featured a pair of former Heisman Trophy winners at quarterback and it remained that way even after Palmer, the 2002 recipient, was knocked out of the contest by a blindside hit from Carolina's Greg Hardy. Leinart, a USC product like Palmer, won college football's most prized award in 2004, while Newton received the honor in 2010 while leading Auburn to a national title.
Newton got the better of the play early, connecting with Smith for a 23-yard touchdown to give Carolina a 7-0 lead. Newton rolled to his right and lofted it up to Smith, who made a diving grab in the back right corner of the end zone.
Palmer left the contest on the next series. He had completed each of his three passes for 31 yards before exiting.
After a trade of punts, Sebastian Janikowski's 21-yard field goal capped an 11-play, 73-yard trek to pull the Raiders within 7-3. Earlier in the drive, Leinart found Derek Hagan for a 19-yard gain on 3rd-and-12 to get the ball to the Carolina 23.
Graham Gano missed a field goal for Carolina with 1:41 left in the first half, but Leinart's pass on the ensuing Raiders possession was intercepted by Kuechly and returned 25 yards to the Oakland 29. A 22-yard pass to DeAngelo Williams on first down set up a 3-yard Newton touchdown run on third down to put the Panthers up 14-3 just 17 seconds before the intermission.
Newton's pass on the final play of the third quarter was intercepted by Miles Burris and returned to the Panthers' 18. An unnecessary roughness penalty put the ball on the eight and Pryor's 5-yard pass gave the Raiders the ball at the three. Darren McFadden scored on the next play, but the touchdown was nullified following a holding penalty on Steve Wisniewski. Leinart's next two passes fell incomplete and Oakland was forced to settle for a 31-yard Janikowski field goal.
Gano's 51-yard kick with 2:46 left put the Panthers up 17-6 and sealed the win.
The Panthers outgained Oakland, 271-189 ... Newton led the team in rushing with 60 yards on 12 carries ... Although Palmer was knocked out, he joined Rich Gannon (4,689 in 2002) as only Oakland quarterbacks to reach 4,000 passing yards in a season. Palmer has 4,016 yards this season.