Thomas Davis

Newton throws 4 TDs, Panthers spoil Rodgers’ return 31-24

Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Cam Newton threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers spoiled Aaron Rodgers‘ return from a broken collarbone with a 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Damiere Byrd had two touchdown catches, and Christian McCaffrey had 136 yards from scrimmage, including a 7-yard touchdown reception and the Panthers (10-4) won their fourth straight home game.

Greg Olsen had his most productive game since returning from a broken foot, catching nine passes for 116 yards and a TD and the Panthers kept pace with the first-place New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.

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

Rodgers, making his first appearance since Oct. 15, threw for 290 yards with three touchdowns but was intercepted three times as the Packers’ playoff hopes took a potentially critical blow.

Green Bay (7-7) had a chance to send the game into overtime for a third straight week, but Panthers cornerback James Bradberry stripped wide receiver Geronimo Allison of the ball after a completion at the Carolina 28-yard line with 1:48 remaining. Safety Mike Adams recovered the fumble.

The Panthers trailed 14-10 at halftime, but Newton threw TD passes to Olsen and Byrd in the third quarter to give them a 24-14 lead.

Byrd’s first touchdown, a 9-yard grab in the back of the end zone, came with some controversy. The play was initially ruled an incompletion, but coach Ron Rivera challenged the play and officials overturned the call ruling that Byrd’s backside landed inbounds and overturned the play.

After Green Bay’s field goal cut the Carolina lead to 24-17, Newton found Byrd again on a slant route to make it a two-possession game with 12:29 left in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers started bringing the pressure after that, sack Rodgers three times in the fourth quarter including a takedown by former Packer Julius Peppers on a fourth-and-14 deep in Carolina territory.

But Rodgers struck with a TD pass to Richard Rodgers and the Packers recovered the ensuing onside kick with 2:40 left.

ADAMS CONCUSSION: It didn’t help that Rodgers lost his most productive receiver in the third quarter with a concussion.

Davante Adams took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis on an interception return by Colin Jones. As Adams was running to make the tackle on Jones, Davis appeared to launch himself at Adams with a peel-back block, immediately sending the wide receiver to the ground.

Davis was flagged for a 15-yard penalty.

Davis immediately appeared to know what he had done, cupping his head in hands as he sat on the Panthers bench. Adams had five catches for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers before leaving the game.

COMING IN BUNCHES: After going 12 games without an interception, Panthers starting cornerbacks Bradberry and Daryl Worley both have interceptions in back-to-back games. Worley got Rodgers in the first half on a deep route along the left sideline, while Bradberry got one on an underthrown deep ball.

INJURIES:

Packers: Linebacker Nick Perry left the game with an ankle injury in the third quarter and did not return.

Panthers: Wide receiver Russell Shepard left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury and did not return.

UP NEXT

Packers: Host the Vikings on Saturday night.

Panthers: Host the Buccaneers on Sunday.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Panthers Holding Steady as the Super Bowl 50 Betting Favorites

Leave a comment

As the kickoff for Super Bowl 50 approaches the Carolina Panthers have solidified their position as 5.5-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Carolina opened as 3.5-point chalk following their 49-15 demolition of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game but the betting line for Sunday night’s Panthers vs. Broncos Super Bowl matchup at Levi’s Stadium quickly moved in favor of the NFC champs, reaching six points at select sportsbooks before settling at 5.5.

The Panthers owned the NFL’s top offense this season, averaging 31.3 points per game, a point total they have eclipsed in eight of their past 11 contests overall. However, they will be up against the Broncos’ top-ranked defense, which surrendered a league-low 283.1 yards per game, including just 83.6 yards per game on the ground.

The health of running back Jonathan Stewart could be cause for concern for Carolina.

Stewart has missed time at practice with an ankle injury, joining a lengthy group of Panthers who are listed as questionable on the early injury report for Super Bowl 50, including linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive end Charles Johnson.

However, none are expected to miss action on Sunday, including lineman Jared Allen, who is expected to play after missing the NFC Championship Game with a foot injury.

The Broncos are dealing with injury troubles of their own, most notably to safeties TJ Ward and Darian Stewart, who both missed practice last week and are listed as questionable for Sunday.

The injury to Jonathan Stewart has done little to impact the rusher’s Super Bowl MVP odds, which have held steady at 22/1. But it is the opposing quarterbacks that lead the way on the Super Bowl 50 MVP odds, with Carolina’s Cam Newton pegged as a -130 favorite, followed by Denver’s Peyton Manning, who sports +275 odds. Speculation has run rampant that Manning will announce his retirement following Super Bowl 50.

The 39-year-old Manning makes his fourth Super Bowl appearance on Sunday, and second in the last three years, but has just one championship to his credit, claiming Super Bowl MVP honors at Super Bowl XLI while leading the Indianapolis Colts to a 29-17 win over the Chicago Bears.

Manning has endured a difficult campaign, throwing just nine regular season touchdowns while missing six weeks to injury, but looked strong in Denver’s 20-18 win over New England in the AFC Championship Game, ending the club’s five-game losing streak against the spread per the OddsShark NFL Database.

Super Bowl 50 Preview: Time, date, location for Panthers vs. Broncos

Leave a comment

Peyton Manning is the only five-time MVP in NFL history, one of the faces of the league and, at 39, the oldest starting quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl.

Slowed by age and injury, he is no longer the record-breaking passer he once was. Most folks figure Manning’s fourth Super Sunday appearance will be his last game as a pro.

Cam Newton is at the opposite end of his career, just 26, making his debut in the big game. He also is expected to earn MVP honors for the first time, part of a new breed of dual-threat QBs as good at running as they are at throwing.

Super Bowl 50, which will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Feb. 7, will start at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

For the next two weeks, until Manning’s AFC champion Denver Broncos (14-4) play Newton’s NFC champion Carolina Panthers (17-1) for the Lombardi Trophy, most of the focus will be on the two quarterbacks who were No. 1 overall draft picks 13 years apart.

“Oh, wow,” said Newton, whose Panthers opened as 4-point favorites with most bookmakers. “Playing `The Sheriff.”‘

That is a reference to Manning, who is 1-2 in past Super Bowls. He won a championship with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, lost with the Colts in 2010, and lost again with the Broncos in 2014.

But this is a different version of Manning.

Yes, he’s still as good as anyone at diagnosing defenses and changing things up – or appearing to, anyway – at the line of scrimmage.

Yes, he’s still out there yelling “Omaha!”

“He most certainly is a Hall of Famer,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.

But Manning is not quite as capable as he was, once upon a time, when it comes to putting the football exactly where he wants it, especially on deep routes.

This has hardly been a record-setting season for Manning – or, until now, one worth remembering. Overall, the bad far outweighed the good, including one game with a passer rating of 0.0, 17 interceptions to only nine touchdown passes in the regular season, being sidelined for six weeks with a series of injuries, getting relegated to backup duty in the NFL for the first time, and vehemently denying a report linking Manning’s wife to the banned drug HGH.

“My role has been different and my contributions are different,” Manning said. “But I’m fortunate and grateful that I have the opportunity to contribute still, in some way. And it’s a great honor to be going back to the Super Bowl.”

Here are some of the other story lines for the 50th Super Bowl, which will be Denver’s record-tying eighth and Carolina’s second:

SUPERMAN: Newton threw for 335 yards and two TDs, and he ran for 47 yards and a pair of scores, leading Carolina past the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC title game Sunday night. It was the type of dynamic performance he put in all season, the sort of promise he showed while winning a Heisman Trophy in college at Auburn. “I keep saying it: We’re not finished. We’re not finished,” Newton said.

MILLER TIME: Broncos linebacker Von Miller was terrific Sunday, getting 2 1/2 sacks and an interception in a 20-18 victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC title game. “I wanted to do it for Peyton,” said Miller, who was injured and missed Denver’s loss to Seattle in the 2014 Super Bowl.

DOMINANT DEFENSES: Both of these teams excel at defense. The Broncos led the NFL with 52 sacks and allowed a league-low 283.1 yards per game, then made life difficult as can be for Brady on Sunday, knocking him to the ground over and over. No one forced more turnovers than the Panthers, and only five clubs gave up fewer points (the Broncos were one, naturally). Against Arizona, Carolina produced seven takeaways.

CAROLINA’S STARTS: If the Panthers are able to get off to the sort of start they’ve made commonplace lately, they might not even give the Broncos a chance to make a game of it. In their two games this postseason, Carolina outscored its opponents 55-7 in the first half. That includes leads of 17-0 after one quarter and 24-7 after two against Arizona. “We wanted to start fast,” Newton said. “We wanted to keep the pressure on.”

INJURIES: Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said he broke his right forearm against Arizona – “I knew something was wrong,” he said – but sounded like someone who plans to play in the Super Bowl. The Broncos, meanwhile, lost both of their starting safeties – T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart – to injuries during Sunday’s game.

Information from NBCSports.com News Services was used in this report.