Cam Newton threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds left to lift the Panthers to a 17-13 win over the New Orleans Saints and clinch the team’s first playoff berth since 2008.
Carolina (11-4) can wrap up the NFC South and a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win next Sunday at Atlanta.
The Panthers intercepted Drew Brees twice and sacked him six times to avenge a 31-13 loss two weeks ago.
Still, the Panthers needed some last-minute big plays from Newton. After being held to 116 yards passing for the game’s first 59 minutes, Newton led the Panthers 65 yards in 32 seconds for the winning score.
“Cam was very resilient,” coach Ron Rivera said. “He struggled all day and he knows that. But he came through when we needed him.”
Cam Newton is looking more and more like a true franchise quarteraback, and to think he did this without Steve Smith.
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