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Panthers handle Ravens 36-21, stay unbeaten at home


CHARLOTTE -- After two consecutive weeks of slow starts, the Panthers hung 24 first-half points on the Ravens and their No. 1-ranked defense en route to a 36-21 victory at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.

After trailing 7-0 early, Carolina began the second half with a 17-point lead after scoring touchdowns on three of their five first-half drives. Quarterback Joe Flacco looked to get Baltimore back in it after halftime, but nickel cornerback Captain Munnerlyn would end a Ravens drive with his first interception since 2015.

Carolina took over at the Baltimore 49, and kicker Graham Gano eventually drilled a 44-yard field goal to increase the lead to 20. Flacco responded with a 9-yard TD pass to close the third quarter, but a 12-yard rushing TD by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton early in the fourth effectively iced a dominant Carolina performance.

"I thought our guys came out and did some good things in all three phases," said head coach Ron Rivera. "I thought Eric (Washington) did a nice job calling the defenses. On the offensive side, we got into a really good rhythm. Cam Newton made some great decisions and really just pleased with that."

Newton finished 21-of-29 for 219 yards and two touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown. Rookie wide receiver DJ Moore had his best game of the season, tallying 90 yards on five receptions and 39 rushing yards on two carries. The offensive line allowed zero sacks while the defense added two sacks, seven QB hits and two interceptions.

"We played great complementary football," said Newton. "The Ravens' defense is one of the best defenses we've played all year. It was a great team win for us."

For the Ravens, Flacco went 22-of-39 for 192 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while running back Alex Collins was limited to 49 yards on 11 carries. Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson contributed 26 yards on three carries and went 4-of-5 for 46 passing yards and a touchdown.

Following the Ravens' 11-play, 75-yard opening drive - capped by Collins mashing his way into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown - the Panthers got the ball rolling.

Newton connected with Moore for back-to-back receptions of 7 and 18 yards before finding wideout Devin Funchess for an 18-yarder. Running back Christian McCaffrey capped off the series with an 11-yard run to give the Panthers their first score towards the end of the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, defensive tackle Kyle Love rocked Collins and knocked the ball out, allowing fellow defensive tackle Vernon Butler to recover and give the offense great field position at the Baltimore 12. It took Carolina three plays to notch its second touchdown, when Newton hit tight end Greg Olsen with an 11-yard pass to go up 14-7.

Rookie cornerback Donte Jackson halted Baltimore's momentum on the next drive after earning his first career sack. Carolina's ensuing drive would produce a number of notable moments. Moore added to his standout half with a 33-yard reception and a bobbled pitch-turned-fumble recovery for a 28-yard gain. The wild 10-play, 99-yard drive ended after McCaffrey snagged a deflected ball out of mid-air in the red zone to give Carolina its third TD of the half.

Carolina would close a sensational first half with safety Mike Adams earning his 30th career pick to help set up Gano for a 54-yard field goal to give the Panthers a commanding 24-7 lead.

The Panthers will now look ahead to defending home against the Buccaneers at 1 p.m. on November 4.