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Panthers hold off Jets


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – For the second week in a row, the game's final moments were a bit too dramatic for Panthers head coach Ron Rivera's liking.

But for the second consecutive week, Carolina emerged with the victory, this time holding off the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, 17-12 on Sunday night.

It's the first exhibition win on the road for the franchise since the 2007 preseason opener against the Giants.

"This was a very good test for us," Rivera said. "I think we made a nice step.

"Anytime you travel and come away with a victory, that's a huge plus. We handled our composure well."

The Panthers' starters on both sides of the ball played the first half and produced a 10-9 halftime lead.

Quarterback Cam Newton engineered a 13-play, 65-yard drive to open the game, setting up Olindo Mare for a 33-yard field goal.

"We're on track," Newton said. "But offensively we have to do a better job sustaining drives. We stalled at the end. We just have to find a way to finish them."

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn intercepted Mark Sanchez to put the Panthers in prime position to score before halftime. Sanchez's pass was on target for Stephen Hill, but the ball bounced off the wide receiver and into the hands of Munnerlyn, who returned the ball 16 yards to the New York 31-yard line.

Five plays later, Newton connected with wide receiver Louis Murphy on a 3-yard touchdown pass.

The one-point halftime advantage came courtesy of that score and the effort Carolina put forth defensively in the red zone.

New York's first-team offense advanced inside the Carolina 20-yard line on two occasions in the first half but settled for field goals both times.

"Anytime you can do that – hold a team to field goals – you've accomplished something," Rivera said.

The Panthers defense proved stingy in the red zone again in the third quarter, but the Jets took a 12-10 lead on a 30-yard field goal from Nick Folk.

Carolina responded on the ensuing possession.

Quarterback Derek Anderson threaded a pass to Gary Barnidge over the middle, and the tight end rumbled down the right sideline for a 43-yard gain, placing the ball at the Jets' 20-yard line.

Later, on second-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Anderson faked a handoff before lofting the ball to a wide-open Barnidge for the touchdown.

"They rushed everybody and turned me free," Barnidge said.

The Jets made a final comeback attempt with 1:53 left.

Quarterback Tim Tebow, an all-too-familiar initiator of late-game dramatics, moved the ball down to the Carolina 27-yard line with 17 seconds to go.

"It's a nightmare," Rivera said of watching Tebow lead New York downfield in the closing seconds. "I have to admit that."

But Rivera's defense once again held firm, forcing three straight incompletions to end the game.

"When you win, especially on the road in this league, it's good for momentum going into the regular season," Barnidge said. "We did some good things against a real good team."

STEWART INJURED: Rivera said running back Jonathan Stewart twisted his ankle and may have suffered a sprain, but X-rays came back negative. Rivera said Stewart will not play Thursday in the preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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