Stewart runs for 3 TDs, Panthers beat Vikings 31-24

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jonathan Stewart ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers snapped the Minnesota Vikings’ eight-game winning streak with a 31-24 victory Sunday.

Cam Newton threw for 137 yards and a touchdown and ran for 75 yards as the Panthers (9-4) racked up 216 yards on the ground against the league’s No. 2 ranked defense to pull even with the Saints atop the NFC South standings.

Carolina sacked Case Keenum six times and forced three turnovers to keep the Vikings (10-3) from clinching the NFC North division title.

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After the Panthers squandered an 11-point fourth quarter lead, Newton broke free of the pocket and raced 62 yards for a key first down with 2 minutes remaining. Stewart scored his career-high third TD when he jumped over the line of scrimmage, reaching the ball across the goal line for a 31-24 lead.

Minnesota couldn’t manage a first down on its final drive and turned the ball over on downs.

The Panthers seemed in control midway through the fourth quarter leading 24-13 after Newton made an off-balance throw to Devin Funchess for an 18-yard touchdown, and Mario Addison‘s strip-sack set up Graham Gano‘s field goal.

But the Vikings came charging back to tie it as Keenum hooked up on a 52-yard scoring strike on a crossing route. Blake Bell added 2-point conversion catch to cut the lead to three.

On Carolina’s next possession, Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo intercepted Newton on a ball that sailed off the hands of Christian McCaffrey and returned it to the Carolina 6. But Carolina’s defense had a huge stop, holding the Vikings to a field goal leaving the game tied with 3:07 left.

INJURIES:

Vikings: Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur left game with a foot injury and did not return.

Panthers: Tight end Greg Olsen left briefly after re-injuring his foot, but did return.

UP NEXT

Vikings: Host the Bengals next Sunday.

Panthers: Host the Packers next Sunday.

More AP NFL: http://pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Von Miller recovers his Super Bowl 50 helmet

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Von Miller has his Super Bowl 50 helmet back.

The FBI retrieved his helmet from Mexican authorities who also recovered Tom Brady‘s two Super Bowl jerseys in Mexico City last month. Special agents Brian Schmitt, Melissa Tallman and Clint Judd delivered the helmet to Miller at the UC Heath Center on Wednesday.

Miller said last week he didn’t even realize his helmet was missing after leading the Broncos to a 24-10 win over Carolina in Super Bowl 50. Miller was voted the game’s MVP after his two strip-sacks of Cam Newton.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

“Honestly, I didn’t even know my helmet was missing. That’s how crazy last year was,” Miller said recently. “But we had the best of the best, the finest investigators on the whole ordeal, and they were able to find … Tom’s jerseys, and they were able to find my helmet, as well. So, hats off to those guys.”

Miller had placed several decals of U.S. military branches on the inside of his helmet in honor of service members during the 2015 season. The league allows players to place one decal from a branch of the military on the back of their helmet during its annual “Salute to Service” week.

Miller placed one on the exterior as allowed and stuck the rest on the interior, and that helped authorities authenticate the helmet.

After leading New England to a fifth Super Bowl in February, Brady said somebody stole the jersey he wore in the Patriots’ comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons. He revealed the next day that the jersey he wore in New England’s 2015 Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks went missing after that game, as well.

The jerseys were found along with Miller’s helmet after authorities obtained a warrant to search property of Martin Mauricio Ortega, a tabloid journalist who colleagues say went to the game with a media credential, but bragged he was there as a fan.

Brian Drent, president and CEO of Mile High Card Company, an auctioneer of fine sports memorabilia in Colorado, said Ortega told him last year that he had Miller’s Super Bowl 50 helmet and asked how much he might get for it.

NFL Week 1 odds: Panthers on TNF among favorites on opening slate

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Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have ruled the NFC South for three seasons, but covering as a road favorite has not been their forte. Heading into Thursday night’s NFL season opener between last year’s Super Bowl teams, the Panthers are listed as three-point favorites against the host Denver Broncos at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Over the last three seasons, Carolina is 9-3 straight-up but just 5-7 against the spread as a road favorite, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. However, overall they’re also 8-0 both SU and ATS in their last eight games as a favorite of three or fewer points.

Denver, which won both home games last season where it was an underdog, is 25-4 SU in its last 29 home games. The total has gone under in both the Panthers’ last four season openers and in the Broncos’ last five games following consecutive wins.

In a Sunday Night Football tilt between the 2015 AFC and NFC finalists, the Arizona Cardinals are listed as six-point favorites against the temporarily Jimmy Garoppolo-led New England Patriots. The Cardinals are 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS in their last dozen games when favored by 6.5 or fewer points.

The Patriots are 5-1 ATS in their last six games against Arizona. The total has gone over six of the last seven times that New England was the underdog.

The New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys tilt is listed as a pick’em. The Cowboys, now counting on rookie QB Dak Prescott, are 5-1 SU in their last six September games. The Giants aren’t known for being fast starters: try an 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS trend in their last five season openers. The NFC East rivals’ last seven games have all gone over the posted total.

The Cincinnati Bengals are 2.5-point favorites on the road against the New York Jets; the Bengals have lost nine road games in a row against the Jets, but they are 6-2 SU and 8-0 ATS in their last eight away games. Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts are four-point favorites at home against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

With backup QB Shaun Hill starting, the Minnesota Vikings are two-point road favorites against the Tennessee Titans. According to website PredictionMachine.com, the Vikings’ projected points per game average with Hill at quarterback instead of the injured Teddy Bridgewater drops from 24.5 to 21.8. With Sam Bradford at quarterback that number is 22.1.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are favored by three points against the Washington Redskins on Monday night, with the total at 50 points. The total has gone under for bettors eight of the last 11 times the Redskins were an underdog of three or fewer points. In the other Monday night game, the Los Angeles Rams are 2.5-point favorites against the host San Francisco 49ers.

In other games of note, the Seattle Seahawks are 10.5-point favorites against the Miami Dolphins, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are a slim one-point favorite at home against the Oakland Raiders, and the Green Bay Packers are 4.5-point favorites on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars.