This game would have had top billing this week if we’re not for the game 24 hours previous, instead of being a damp squib like the main attraction, this one was a real treat. Carolina won its sixth straight game to advance to 7-3, the same record as the defeated Patriots. This was always going to be a test of the Panthers resolve, sure they had won last week in San Francisco, but you have to be able to back those wins up, especially when you have a tried and tested contender coming into town.
This was to be the night that Cam Newton rose above his potential. Driving his team with assured calmness to the winning score with 59 seconds left in the game. Newton ended the night with 209 yards passing from 19 completions and three touchdowns, add to this his 7 carries for 62 yards on the ground, it was clearly his time to shine.
Of course giving Brady and the Patriots a whole minute to engineer a game winning drive is practically a lifetime, and so it was that he managed to take his team to the very brink of another amazing win. This time though it would not have a happy ending.
Instead it ended it controversy on the final play, as Brady passed to the end zone Rob Gronkowski was held back and a flag was thrown. The game cannot end with a defensive penalty of course. It was after a brief consultation with his officiating crew that referee Clete Blakeman picked up the flag announcing that the receiver (Gronkowski) could not have caught the ball which was a tad underthrown, and therefore the play was dead.
This does take some gloss off a great Panthers performance, winning 24-20, but they will not look back, instead they have served notice that they are for real and still chasing the Saints (8-2) in the NFC South.