Keys to victory: Panthers 24, Patriots 20

What were the keys to victory for the Carolina Panthers in their 24-20 victory Monday over the New England Patriots?

Newton made things happen in tough spots

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton made the best of difficult situations throughout the game.

Newton went 8-for-11 for 98 yards and a touchdown in situations in which the Patriots sent at least five pass-rushers. His first-quarter touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell came against a six-man rush.

Cam Newton This Season

Newton also had four rushes for 56 yards on third down, with each of those rushes leading to a Panthers first down. The Panthers finished 8-for-11 on third down, the second-best conversion rate (73 percent) by any team in a game this season.

The highlight of those runs was when Newton eluded six defenders and covered 75.8 yards of ground (running both up the field and across the field) on a 14-yard scramble midway through the third quarter. The Panthers would score on that drive, on a touchdown throw to Greg Olsen that put Carolina up 17-10 late in the third quarter.

Newton had his third game this season with at least three touchdown passes. He totaled three such games in 2011 and 2012 combined. He threw for 57 yards and rushed for 18 yards on the Panthers' final drive Monday, which produced Carolina’s go-ahead score.

Newton also became the first player in NFL history with at least 10,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in his first three seasons.

Newton finished with a Total QBR of 91.9, raising his season QBR to 59.6. That's better than his rival for Monday's game -- Tom Brady, whose Total QBR stands at 57.9.

The Panthers did not turn the ball over against the Patriots -- whose streak of 36 consecutive games with a takeaway was the longest in the NFL entering the day.

The Panthers now hold that distinction, with a takeaway in 14 straight games.

And speaking of Carolina’s defense …

Panthers defense survives the last drive

The Carolina defense was just good enough to survive Brady’s comeback attempt. Brady was 4-for-11 for 52 yards and an interception (albeit a controversial one) on the final drive of the game.

Brady’s means of keeping up with Newton earlier in the game was to throw the ball short. He was 19-of-20 for 139 yards and a touchdown on throws 5 yards for fewer downfield. He became the sixth quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 4,000 complete passes.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Day

The Panthers became the fourth team in NFL history to beat the 49ers and Patriots in consecutive games in the regular season. The last team to do it was the 1998 Atlanta Falcons, who ended their season with a loss in the Super Bowl.

There have been two other instances in which a team beat the 49ers and Patriots in consecutive games -- the last two NFL champs (New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens) have done so in the conference championship and Super Bowl.