PHILADELPHIA — Cam Newton returned to his rookie form to outshine a seventh-round draft pick starting his first game since high school.
Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more to lead the Carolina Panthers to a 30-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles Monday night in a matchup of teams with the worst records in the NFC.
Bryce Brown set a club rookie record with 178 yards rushing, including TD runs of 65 and 5 yards, but the Eagles (3-8) still lost their seventh straight game.
Brown, filling in for injured running back LeSean McCoy, surpassed Correll Buckhalter’s rookie mark of 134 yards rushing in his first start since his senior year at Wichita East High School in 2008. But Brown also lost two fumbles, including one in Panthers territory.
Fellow rookie Nick Foles was so-so in his second straight start for Michael Vick, who also sat out with a concussion. Foles was 16 of 21 for 119 yards.
Carolina (3-8) went ahead, 24-22, early in the fourth quarter on Graham Gano’s 23-yard field goal.
Then the Panthers finally stopped Brown when it mattered most, stuffing him on a fourth and 1 to take over on downs at their 40. Newton led them downfield, running in from the 2 to make it 30-22. Gano, signed last week, missed the extra point. But Brandon Boykin fumbled after a 44-yard kickoff return, the Panthers recovered, and held the ball the final 4:29.
Newton, who hadn’t played up to his sensational rookie season, showed no signs of a sophomore slump against Philadelphia’s porous pass defense. He finished 18 of 28 for 306 yards.
Newton had a 24-yard TD toss over the middle to an open Gary Barnidge for a 7-3 lead. He hit Brandon LaFell on a 43-yard pass to make it 14-3 later in the first quarter. LaFell was wide open on the play, taking advantage of another breakdown in coverage.
Since Todd Bowles replaced Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator, the Eagles have allowed 13 passing touchdowns and haven’t had an interception in five games.
Newton led a 95-yard drive to open the third quarter, finishing it off with a 1-yard leap to give the Panthers a 21-15 lead.