The 7-3 Carolina Panthers defeated the 7-3 New England Patriots on Monday Night behind a star-making performance from Cam Newton that saw him put together an impressive game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.
Carolina drew first blood when Newton found Brandon Lafell for a nine-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. It was an impressive 90-yard drive for the Panthers on their second possession of the game, that included a 43-yard pass to Steve Smith and a 15-yard penalty on Aqib Talib for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.
The Patriots responded with a solid drive on the next possession, but Stevan Ridley fumbled inside the Panthers' 15-yard line giving the ball back to Carolina. The Panthers would add a field goal and extend their lead to 10-0.
The Pats would respond just before halftime with a field goal to cut the lead to a touchdown.
The Patriots continued their momentum to open the second half, taking the opening drive 80-yards and capping it off with a Rob Gronkowski touchdown, with Gronk carrying three Panther defenders into the end zone.
The Panthers immediately marched down the field and took a 17-10 lead on a touchdown pass to Greg Olson. Cam Newton made a spectacular play at midfield to keep the drive going, avoiding multiple Patriot defenders to pick up a first down. Newton was 7-for-7 on the drive, picking apart the Patriots secondary as their front seven was unable to pressure the Panther quarterback.
New England continued their dominant stretch offensively on the next possession, with their third scoring drive in a row. Stevan Ridley plunged in from one yard out after Kenbrell Thompkins' 37-yard reception set the Pats up on the goalline. That tied the game at 17.
The Pats would add a field goal on their next possession after a three-and-out by the Panthers.
That set the stage for the Panthers' final drive, a 13-play, 83-yard masterpiece with Newton finding Ted Ginn for a 25-yard go-ahead score with just under a minute left.
Tom Brady and the Pats fought down to the final play, getting one last shot into the end zone, but Brady couldn't replicate the magic he had earlier in the season against the Saints as his final throw fell incomplete.
This back-and-forth affair was one of the best games of the 2013 NFL season, and a potential star-making moment for Cam Newton.