After coming up short against Denver last week, Cam Newton made sure fans left smiling in Sunday’s home opener for the Carolina Panthers as the league’s top-scoring offense last year returned to form at Bank of America Stadium.
The 27-year-old completed 24 of 40 passes for 353 yards and four touchdowns as the Panthers overcame four turnovers — three fumbles — to beat the San Francisco 49ers 46-27 Sunday afternoon. Newton showed no ill effects from multiple helmet-to-helmet hits against the Broncos last week.
Newton also set a Panthers record for most passing touchdowns in franchise history Sunday. Newton reached 121 career touchdown passes to top Jake Delhomme (120).
Kelvin Benjamin — who missed last season with a torn ACL — led the way with two touchdown grabs and Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess each hauled in one in the blowout win. Olsen finished with 122 yards receiving and Benjamin had 108.
Newton didn’t get out to the best of starts as his first pass was tipped and intercepted by Antoine Bethea, which led to a 49ers field goal. But the 2015 NFL MVP locked in after that as he tore up the 49ers defense both through the air and on the ground.
San Francisco did have a short 10-7 lead in second quarter before Carolina came right back. Less than 20 seconds later, Newton found Olsen for a career-long 78-yard touchdown reception as he beat a linebacker and was wide open down the middle of the field before taking it to the house.
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Despite losing running back Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) in the first quarter, the Panthers ground game had no problems running the ball against a defense that shutout out the Rams in a 28-0 victory last week.
Fozzy Whittaker ran for 100 yards (6.25 yards per carry) and had three catches for 31 yards in the win.
Blaine Gabbert started great as he threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in the loss. But down the stretch, Gabbert threw two consecutive interceptions in the game’s final five minutes to seal the win for the Panthers.
Carolina: Next up for the Panthers is a home game against the unbeaten Minnesota Vikings (2-0) who pulled out a 17-14 victory over Green Bay.
San Francisco:The 49ers will remain on the road as the take on the Seattle Seahawks (1-1) who are coming off a 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.