What It Means
Who saw that coming?
Sure, the Patriots' defense was struggling, but the Panthers' offense didn't take advantage of a similar situation at home against the Saints last week.
But after a week when his shoulder felt the best it has since offseason shoulder surgery, quarterback Cam Newton looked like the MVP of 2015 completing 22 of his 29 passes with three passing touchdowns. He also chipped in a rushing score before leading the 13th game-winning drive of his career, his first since 2015.
With the win, the Panthers now lead the all-time series with the Patriots, 4-3. And because old friend Sean McDermott led the Bills to an upset in Atlanta, the 3-1 Panthers are now tied atop the NFC South with the Falcons.
—Defensive end Julius Peppers was wearing a brace on the right shoulder that made him a late add to the injury report. He had a brief scare when he bumped knees on the Patriots' first drive, but Peppers later returned to pick up the 147th and 148th sacks of his career.
—Safety Kurt Coleman injured his left knee early in the second quarter. He was replaced the rest of the way by Demetrious Cox, who the Panthers picked up off waivers on Sept. 3, the same day Carolina's trade for cornerback Kevon Seymour became official. So with Seymour playing for injured starter Daryl Worley, two-fifths of the secondary was made up of guys who had been on the roster for just four weeks.
—Wide receiver Damiere Byrd injured his left arm on a reverse early in the second quarter. Byrd, who was on kickoff return duty with Curtis Samuel out
—Defensive end Mario Addison, who missed a series late in the first half after he tweaked his left knee, returned for the Patriots' opening series of the second half.
—Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin showed no ill-effects from the left knee injury that kept him out for most of Week 3's loss to the Saints. Benjamin finished with four receptions for 104 yards.
—The good Newton's streakiness showed up Sunday. After throwing an interception into double coverage, the quarterback completed 16 of his next next 17 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns.
—Running back Fozzy Whittaker's 28-yard touchdown was his first score since his 16-yard run capped off Carolina's 38-0 rout of Atlanta in 2015.
—Whittaker's score snapped a Panthers' slump of 98:19 without a first half touchdown.
—The Panthers' passed for 189 net yards in the first half, surpassing their season-high total for an entire game (178 vs. Buffalo).
—Devin Funchess' two touchdown day was the first multi-score game of his career.
—A five-yard run in the fourth quarter was a record-breaker for Jonathan Stewart, who passed DeAngelo Williams for most rushing yards in franchise history.
—Stephen Gostkowski's 58-yard field goal at the end of the first half wasn't just the longest of his 12-year career, it was also the longest in Patriots' history.
—Newton is now the Panthers' all-time winningest quarterback, passing Jake Delhomme (53).