CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Cam Newton was determined to protect the Carolina Panthers' house at all costs Sunday.
That meant the fifth-year quarterback tearing down a large Green Bay Packers banner before the game that was hanging over the inside wall of the stadium — and later taking down the Packers by throwing for three touchdowns and running for another in a 37-29 victory.
Newton threw for 297 yards as the Panthers (8-0) took an important step toward securing home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Every other NFC team has at least two losses, including the Packers (6-2).
Carolina has now won 12 consecutive regular-season games, including seven in a row at home.
"There was a Green Bay banner in Bank of America Stadium — and that just doesn't match," Newton said. "… We take pride in having an edge and playing in Bank of America Stadium and playing in front of the Carolinas every week, and it's something that I feel it was my due diligence to protect" the stadium.
Carolina led by 23 points in the fourth quarter before Aaron Rodgers rallied Green Bay and nearly gave the Packers a chance to extend the game into overtime.
Rodgers threw for 369 yards and four TDs, but couldn't take advantage of one of Newton's few mistakes: an interception with 3 minutes, 38 seconds left in the game that gave the Packers the ball at the Carolina 22. Down by 8, Rodgers' fourth-and-goal pass from the Carolina 4 was intercepted by linebacker Thomas Davis.
It capped a frustrating day for the Packers. Rodgers was so annoyed he threw his tablet on the ground on the sideline after watching the replay.
"We had an opportunity for a pitch-and-catch touchdown, and I got scared by something," Rodgers said. "I can't explain. It was a mistake for me, and something I'll think about on the ride home. I don't know who was in my face; all I know is I had Randall [Cobb] wide open for a touchdown."
Earlier in the game, Julius Peppers refused to give the ball back to Newton after the quarterback scored a touchdown, instead electing to toss the ball down the field in the opposite direction. Newton retrieved the ball and gave it to a fan.
And, down by 37-14 in the fourth quarter, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix began jawing at Peppers, who was seated on the bench. Peppers stood up and talked back before B.J. Raji stepped in, shoving Clinton-Dix backward.
"It doesn't concern me," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's football. Things happen on the sidelines. … I have no concerns."