EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After one of the strangest and nastiest games this NFL season, Cam Newton had an odd feeling.
His Carolina Panthers had just shrugged off a record-tying Giants comeback to remain perfect with a wild 38-35 victory Sunday. Newton, who threw for five touchdowns to further state his case for NFL Most Valuable Player honors, wasn't quite sure what he'd just been through.
"It was kind of a weird feeling in that locker room, and I'm still feeling kind of weird, but not enough to [not] celebrate," said Newton, who also rushed for 100 yards. "We're just trying to find a way to get victories."
New York tied the score after trailing by 28 points in the third quarter, but the Panthers got to 14-0 on Graham Gano's 43-yard field goal as time expired.
It was Carolina's 18th straight regular-season victory. Newton has thrown for 19 touchdowns in the last five games and a career-best 33 in this so-far special season.
It looked oh so easy when NFC South champion Carolina led 35-7 with 5:32 left in the third quarter. Then the Giants (6-8) matched San Francisco's 28-point rally -- from the same score -- against New Orleans in 1980.
One big difference: The 49ers won that game in overtime. The Giants trail Washington by one game in the NFC East, and have lost in the final minutes six times.
Carolina hasn't lost at all, of course.
Carolina visits Atlanta and hosts Tampa Bay to finish the schedule. All three previous NFL teams to reach 14-0 -- Miami in 1972, New England in 2007 and Indianapolis in 2009 -- made the Super Bowl. Only the Dolphins won the championship, though.
The 18 straight wins match the third-longest string in NFL history.
"These last two games are division opponents, and we'll be in a hostile environment in Atlanta," Newton added. "And we've got a tricky week with Christmas. We just have to find a way to keep moving ahead and make sure we stay on the side of the pendulum."
The Giants tied it when Odell Beckham Jr., involved in a game-long helmet-smacking, shoving and jawing session with cornerback Josh Norman, got behind Norman for a 14-yard touchdown catch with 1:46 to go. Beckham had lost his cool several times as Norman was getting the best of him in their high-profile matchup. But he got free for a 40-yard catch and run that led to the tying TD.
Then Newton calmly guided the Panthers 49 yards to the winning kick.
"To go out there and just let them drive down the field is just mind-boggling," said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who blocked a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Play ranged from chippy to vicious, particularly as the Panthers banged Beckham around. He gave back, too, especially during one sequence when Norman crashed into him and Beckham wrestled Norman to the ground.
Three times, a frustrated Beckham was penalized for roughness. Norman also drew a flag for hitting Beckham in the helmet. And after his tying score, Beckham appeared to taunt Norman before he ran to midfield in celebration.
"He's got the maturity of a little kid," Norman said.
"You got two bulls going at it in a physical sport, a field full of alpha males, they're not going to be playing patty-cake, patty-cake," Newton added.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he considered sitting Beckham for some plays, but didn't.
"He did lose his composure," Coughlin said of Beckham. "I think throughout the course of the game he regained it. I won't try to speak for him."
Beckham tried to explain his actions.
"You are a competitor. I'm a competitor. We are always going to go at it," he said. "Anybody who has played sports -- you are competitive and you are going to go as hard as you can."
NFL spokesman Michael Signora said Sunday night: "The disqualification of a player is a judgment made by the on-field officials. The actions of the players involved in unsportsmanlike conduct will be reviewed as per the standard protocol that is followed in all situations of this type throughout the season."
Meanwhile, Newton was staying calm.
He showed off his sprinting skills, and his toughness, on a 47-yard gain to set up Carolina's first touchdown. The quarterback surged away from pursuers, then was slammed as he stepped out of bounds by rookie safety Landon Collins -- Alabama hitting Auburn -- for a late-hit penalty that began all maliciousness.
Ted Ginn Jr. caught a 3-yarder to make it 7-0. He added a 14-yard TD catch in the third quarter.
Newton also took a helmet to the right shoulder when passing in the second period and came to the sideline in obvious pain. But he was back on the field moments later after Rashad Jennings' fumble was forced and recovered by Charles Tillman. Newton was celebrating in the end zone again after Greg Olsen's 37-yard reception three plays later.
It was Carolina's league-leading 34th takeaway; the Panthers have 124 points off turnovers.
Earlier, Manning found Rueben Randle uncovered down the left sideline for a 27-yard touchdown.
Newton threw for 340 yards and had five touchdown passes for the third time in five weeks.. ... Jennings became the first Giant this year with a 100-yard rushing game with 107. ... Giants DE end Jason Pierre-Paul, who lost the index finger on his right hand in a July 4 fireworks accident, got his first sack in his sixth game back. ... Giants S Cooper Taylor (concussion). WR-KR Dwayne Harris (shoulder) and FB-DL Nikita Whitlock (knee) left the game.
Madden NFL 21 ratings and rankings: The best players for the 2020 season, 99 club
Here are the 10 pass-rushers with the highest ratings, including four-time 99-rated Aaron Donald.
Judge will not unseal files on Saints owner
A judge has denied a request by news organizations including The Associated Press to unseal court records involving the mental competency of the late billionaire Tom Benson.
Why Stephen A. thinks Dak deserves big money
Stephen A. Smith lists Dak Prescott's numerous accomplishments as reasons the Cowboys' quarterback has earned a long-term contract.
Texans WR Kenny Stills arrested at Louisville protest
Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills was arrested at a protest outside the home of the Kentucky attorney general.
Will Dak Prescott be with Cowboys for the long haul? Answer is near
By 4 p.m. ET today, the QB will either sign a long-term deal or play the 2020 season on the franchise tag, clouding his future in Dallas.
How will Cam respond to the doubt surrounding him this season?
Louis Riddick is confident the skepticism surrounding Cam Newton's comeback season with the Patriots will fuel a strong performance by the determined quarterback.