|Date of game: 9/14/2014
Recap: Carolina vs. Detroit
Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Cam Newton led Carolina on two second-half touchdown drives as the Panthers also used a stout defense to take a 24-7 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Newton had missed last week's season-opening win against Tampa Bay with injured ribs, but was good to go this week and after shaking off some rust, passed for 281 yards on 22-of-34 attempts and a touchdown.
"It was fun to go out there and battle," said Newton. "It was frustrating early on, but we stayed at it. I have to put our team in a better position to win early on."
Jason Avant had a touchdown catch, while Jonathan Stewart added a rushing score and Graham Gano hit three field goals for the Panthers (2-0), who recovered two fumbles in the game and also had an interception.
Matthew Stafford was 27-for-48 for 291 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Lions (1-1), who had opened the season with a home victory against the New York Giants.
"We turned the ball over and if you lose that battle against a team with a defense like that it's going to be tough," said Stafford. "I could have been a lot better on my throws with a few of those early chances we had."
Detroit's first touch of the third quarter proved successful as Stafford guided the team on an 8-play, 63-yard score that was capped on a 1-yard scoring toss to Jed Collins.
A 10-yard catch by Calvin Johnson on third down moved the ball to midfield, and completions of 14 yards to Jeremy Ross and 17 yards to Eric Ebron helped set up a 1st-and-goal. On second down at the 1, Stafford used play action and rolled to the right before connecting on a short pass to Collins, who bowled over a tackler and got in for his first touchdown of the season and a 7-6 lead.
After an exchange of punts, the Panthers started a drive at their own 28 and catches of 14 and 20 yards by Greg Olsen got the ball down to the Detroit 9. After taking a sack, Newton lasered a pass to Avant near the goal line, and he fell in for a 14-yard score and a 13-7 lead with 2:30 to play in the third.
Following another punt exchange, Stafford went deep on the first snap from midfield, and the ball was tipped into the hands of Melvin White, who returned the pick to the Carolina 30.
Newton and Carolina then ate up almost five minutes of the clock, and made it a two-score game when Stewart bulled his way in from two yards out. Newton hit Jerricho Cotchery for a two-point conversion and it was a 21-7 game with 7:26 to play.
Turnovers continued to plague the Lions, as Ross fumbled the kickoff return and the Panthers recovered at the Detroit 33, leading to a 38-yard field goal from Gano for a 24-7 lead with 4:45 to play to account for the final score.
The Lions started the game with the ball and moved into scoring position as Nate Freese attempted a 49-yard field goal, but he missed it to the right.
Carolina didn't get anything going on offense until its third touch of the game. as the team went 77 yards over 14 plays and took a 3-0 lead on a Gano 29-yard field goal with just under eight minutes to play in the second half.
Detroit's next touch saw Freese again line up for a 49-yard field goal attempt, but he missed this one to the right as well.
"I think that's an area that we have to be able to count on," said Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell. "We can certainly get better in a lot of different phases."
The short field benefited the Panthers, as Gano hit a 53-yard field goal with just over a minute remaining in the half to take a 6-0 lead into the break.Game Notes
Before the game, the Panthers deactivated defensive end Greg Hardy. He is
awaiting a jury trial for an incident in May where police report that he
assaulted his girlfriend and threatened to kill her ... Johnson had six
catches for 83 yards. It was his 108th straight game with a reception, passing
Herman Moore for a Detroit franchise record ... Carolina leads the series with
Detroit, 5-2 ... Detroit hosts Green Bay next Sunday ... Carolina hosts
Pittsburgh next Sunday.