What it means: Suddenly, there’s a ray of hope that coach Ron Rivera might be able to keep his job next season. One win against a very bad team isn’t going to change everything and neither is a 3-8 record. But this may be a starting point for Rivera and his team to finish the season on a bit of an upswing. I don’t think Jerry Richardson wants to pull the plug on Rivera, but he needs to see some progress the rest of the way. There are several more games on the schedule that look winnable. If Rivera can win a few of those, he may have a shot to stick around.
Newton’s big night: Cam Newton always seemed to be at his best in big games when he was at Auburn. Maybe he should be in prime time more often. In his “Monday Night Football’’ debut, Newton was both efficient and explosive. He threw two touchdown passes and had two touchdown runs and didn't make any major mistakes.
What I liked: The Panthers showed they actually can close out a game. Squandering fourth-quarter leads had been a problem all season, but Carolina got the job done this time.
What I didn’t like: Carolina’s run defense. Philadelphia rookie running back Bryce Brown had a huge night, rushing for 178 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers haven’t been very good against the run since the latter years of John Fox’s tenure.
Unsung hero: Backup tight end Gary Barnidge caught the first touchdown pass of his career in the first quarter. He also recovered a fumble on a Philadelphia kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
Milestone time: Carolina’s Steve Smith surpassed the 11,000-yard mark in career receiving.
What’s next: The Panthers play at Kansas City on Sunday.