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12/01/2013 6:34 PM EST
Panthers top Bucs 27-6 for 8th straight win
CAROLINA 27, TAMPA BAY 6

By STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Cam Newton walked into the press
conference Sunday afternoon, flashed that familiar smile and
gave a tip of the hat to his former college team.

"War Eagle. War Eagle. War. Damn. Eagle," Newton said.

Less than 24 hours after the Auburn Tigers pulled off an
incredible victory over No. 1 Alabama, Newton had another reason
to smile.

Carolina's third-year quarterback capped a memorable weekend by
throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns and "Superman" leaped
over the pile for another score as the Panthers (9-3) defeated
Tampa Bay 27-6 Sunday for a franchise-record eighth straight
regular season victory.

"It wasn't prototypical, or the way we wanted to win, but we
found a way to win and that's the most encouraging part about
it," said Newton, who rebounded from two interceptions.

The victory set up a huge game next Sunday night in New Orleans
against the Saints with first place in the NFC South on the
line.

"We're ready," said fullback Mike Tolbert, who had 48 yards
rushing and 41 yards receiving in the win. "Around here we pride
ourselves on being able to follow up one game with another."

The Panthers outgained the Buccaneers (3-9) 426-206.

Newton ran for 68 yards, 53 on a first quarter run to set up
Carolina's first touchdown. Newton, who led Auburn to a national
championship and won a Heisman Trophy with the Tigers, is
enjoying the best stretch of this professional career with 13
touchdown passes and five TDs rushing during the win streak.

Carolina's defense came in allowing an NFL-low 13.7 points per
game and forced two turnovers and sacked rookie Mike Glennon
five times to snap Tampa Bay's three-game winning streak.

Glennon had thrown a touchdown pass in an NFL record eight
straight games to start his career, but the Panthers kept the
Bucs out of the end zone. The Panthers have not lost since a
22-6 defeat on the road to Arizona on Oct. 6 and confidence is
at an all-time high in the locker room.

"There is no roof, no sky," defensive end Greg Hardy said.
"We're going up. Every person on this team, every coach on this
team has the same mentality right now. I feel like it's
contagious. Fans are getting it. They feel like they can't be
beat."

The turning point came in the second quarter with the Panthers
holding a 7-6 lead.

Glennon rolled left on third-and-goal at the Carolina 4 and had
the ball inexplicably slip out of his throwing hand without
being touched and Panthers defensive tackle Dwan Edwards
pounced on the loose ball at the 17.

"It just slipped out of my hand, and it really hurt us because
we would have gotten at least three points," Glennon said.

The Panthers cashed in with a 23-yard field goal by Graham Gano.

Newton made it 17-6 with 25 seconds left in the half when coach
Ron Rivera went for it on fourth-and-goal at the 1. With fans
holding signs that read "Riverboat Ron" in the stands, Newton
dove headfirst over the pile, extending the ball over the goal
line.

The Panthers are now 8 of 9 when going for it on fourth-and-1
since his team's Week 2 loss to Buffalo, a big reason for
Carolina's turnaround.

It was all Panthers in the second half.

Safety Mike Mitchell intercepted Glennon on the opening drive
and Newton quickly took advantage. He moved the Panthers 78
yards in four plays, connecting on a 36-yard touchdown pass to
Ted Ginn Jr., who beat Darrelle Revis on a double move.

Glennon was 14 of 21 for 80 yards with an interception.

"I don't know if it was a step back, but maybe he looked a
little more like a rookie than he's looked in the past," Bucs
coach Greg Schiano said.

"The ball slips out of his hand going to his left. That's an
awkward deal, and unfortunate, but it happened. The throw to
Vincent (Jackson) that gets intercepted and the flag gets picked
up, it just didn't look like it came off his hand cleanly. I'm
not sure if there's any reason."

It's hard to imagine the Panthers now have a shot at a
first-round bye in the NFC playoffs after starting the season
1-3, when talk was rampant about Rivera's future with the team.

"It's unbelievable," said defensive end Wes Horton, who had two
of Carolina's sacks. "When we were 1-3 it was tense, we were
trying to find ourselves as a team. And now we're rolling and
everyone is one the same page."

NOTES: Revis left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder
and chest injury and did not return. He will be reevaluated on
Monday. ... Greg Olsen had 85 yards receiving on five catches.
... Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith moved into 20th in NFL
yards receiving, passing Derrick Mason and Hines Ward. ... RB
Jonathan Stewart started for Carolina in place of DeAngelo
Williams, who sat with a quadriceps bruise.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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