JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Cam Newton's preseason debut lasted less than seven minutes, but he made the most of his time by directing a touchdown drive in the Carolina Panthers' 24-23 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Cameron Artis-Payne's two touchdown runs in the second half ultimately spelled the difference on the scoreboard.
Newton opened the game's first possession - his only possession - with six consecutive handoffs before connecting with rookie Christian McCaffrey for a 12-yard gain. After two additional handoffs to the eighth overall pick, Newton found wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin on a quick slant for a 9-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. "We wanted to come out and set the tone," Newton said. "Our operation was clean, and the offensive line and backs did an unbelievable job. We just have to continue to find ways score touchdowns when we get in the red zone."
While the quarterback capped off the drive, Jonathan Stewart carried the majority of the load. The 10-year vet rushed for 41 yards on four carries, including a 31-yard run on his second carry. Stewart's counterpart, McCaffrey, rushed for 12 yards on four carries.
"One of the things we talked about is the benefit of us being able to play physical," head coach Ron Rivera said. "We talked about it, we stressed it all week and we went out and executed. I was really pleased with that."
Long after Newton exited, Artis-Payne barreled into the end zone from two yards out late in the third quarter, giving Carolina a 16-10 lead. After the Jaguars took the lead in the fourth quarter, Artis-Payne added another touchdown that proved to be the game winner. The running back took the handoff from eight yards out and charged into end zone with the help of his offensive line.
A fake punt late in the first quarter sparked Jacksonville's offense after Newton. Corey Grant took the snap from the Jaguars' own 28-yard line and dashed 51 yards into the red zone. Two consecutive penalties backed the Panthers defense up against the goal line before running back Chris Ivory ran into the end zone from a yard out to tie the game.
Backup quarterback Derek Anderson took over for Newton following the team's opening drive, and the offense slowed down without its starting quarterback. On the four ensuing possessions with Anderson under center, Carolina punted twice, added a field goal and turned the ball over. Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste intercepted Anderson on a deep route intended for Ed Dickson late in the half. The interception set up Jason Myers for a game-tying 44-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining.
Anderson led the offense out of the locker room in the third quarter but was replaced for Garrett Gilbert in the second drive. Joe Webb did not play due to shoulder soreness.
Carolina (2-1) returns to the field in one week when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers for their final preseason game on August 31 at 7:30 p.m.
View photos from Carolina's preseason victory in Jacksonville.