(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — The Carolina Panthers won their franchise record eighth consecutive game with a 27-6 victory at home over Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Panthers improved to 9-3 on the season while the Buccaneers fell to 3-9.
Quarterback Cam Newton was responsible for three touchdowns, passing for two and rushing for another. Newton finished the game with 263 passing yards, completing touchdown passes to Brandon Lafell and Ted Ginn, Jr.
Tampa Bay took an early 3-0 lead on a Rian Lindell field goal in the first quarter but the Panthers quickly answered when Newton found Lafell after he rushed for 53 yards to set up the go ahead score. After Lindell added another field goal to pull the Buccaneers within one, Carolina would score 20 unanswered points over the final three quarters.
While Newton did throw two interceptions in the game, the defense held Tampa Bay out of the end zone and forced two turnovers as well. The victory sets up a first-place showdown between Carolina and New Orleans next Sunday night when the Saints host the Panthers. New Orleans is 9-2 on the season and takes on Seattle on Monday night.
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Jill Martin, CNN
Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Newswire