The Carolina Panthers got a much-needed win, 34-10, over the Arizona Cardinals on the road Sunday afternoon.
While he didn’t start the game, quarterback Cam Newton stole the show, scoring two touchdowns on his first two offensive snaps in his first game with the team since the 2019 season.
Arizona entered the game with an NFL-best 8-1 record and were favored to beat the Panthers by 10.5 points, according to fanduel.com.
Things went Carolina’s way from the outset, as linebacker Haason Reddick — who previously played for Arizona — strip-sacked Arizona quarterback Colt McCoy. The ball was recovered by the Panthers’ Morgan Fox, who ran down inside the Cardinals’ 15-yard line.
Five plays later, on 2nd-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Newton checked in and took a designed quarterback run into the end zone for the touchdown, removing his helmet and screaming “I’m back,” at the Arizona crowd following the score. After Arizona turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, the Panthers drove 40 yards and eventually found the end zone again on a 2-yard pass from Newton to Robby Anderson.
Newton finished the game 3-of-4 for 8 yards and a touchdown while running for 14 yards and a score on three carries. His total QBR of 88.6 was the highest of any quarterback that took the field Sunday.
Carolina also got a big boost from running back Christian McCaffrey, who was playing his second game since returning from a hamstring injury. McCaffrey carried the ball 13 times for 95 yards and caught 10 passes for 66 yards.
In five games this season, McCaffrey is averaging 126.2 yards rushing and receiving. He’s only found the end zone once this season — in Carolina’s 26-7 win over New Orleans in Week 2.
P.J. Walker, making his first start of the season at quarterback, completed 22-of-29 passes for 167 yards and zero touchdowns with one interception.
Carolina’s defense held Arizona to 169 yards of total offense, including 104 through the air. The Cardinals were missing starting quarterback Kyler Murray as well as their top receiver, DeAndre Hopkins.
The Panthers, now 5-5, will look to carry this momentum over into next week as they prepare to host former head coach Ron Rivera and the Washington football team (3-6), which picked up an impressive win over defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Rivera and Newton were in Carolina together from 2011 to 2019 before Rivera was fired and Newton was ultimately released.