Patriots can’t solve Panthers defense in preseason loss

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Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, left, lands on his head and shoulders after being hit by New England Patriots’ Deatrich Wise, center, as Devin McCourty (32) watches during the first half of a preseason NFL game in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton gave the Panthers an early injury scare before returning to help Carolina defeat the New England Patriots 25-14 in a preseason game Friday night.

On the game’s opening drive, Newton scrambled out of the pocket on third-and-9 before recklessly diving head-first — this is the preseason, after all — and landing on his head after getting upended by cornerback Jonathan Jones.

Newton was forced to leave the game to be evaluated for a concussion, but returned four plays later to a loud ovation and played the remainder of the first half.

He finished 11 of 17 for 142 yards passing and led three scoring drives — all resulting in field goals — as the Panthers built a 9-3 lead at halftime.

Running back Christian McCaffrey continued to be a major player on offense, touching the ball 10 times for 51 yards on Carolina’s opening drive which lasted nearly 10 minutes.

The Panthers (3-0) had 203 yards in the first half, but couldn’t find the end zone.

It was a quiet night for Tom Brady, who completed 12 of 18 passes for 102 yards in the first half. The five-time Super Bowl champion didn’t get much help from his receivers, who dropped multiple passes. The Patriots never did get in sync offensively and were limited to 130 yards in the first half.

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“We’ve been preparing for this offense so we know they have a good team,” Panthers rookie cornerback Donte Jackson said. “They have a really good motion offense that likes to get things done efficiently. We were just prepared for it. That’s all it was.”

Backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke scored on a rollout in the second half and Garrett Gilbert connected on a TD pass to Mose Frazier for Carolina’s only touchdowns. New England’s only touchdown came with 2:51 left when Mike Gillislee scored on a 2-yard run.

NATIONAL ANTHEM

There were no on-field protests during the playing of the national anthem.

INJURIES

Patriots: Running back Jeremy Hill, who is battling for a roster spot, left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return.

Panthers: Already without three starting offensive linemen, Carolina lost starting offensive tackle Jeremiah Sirles on the game’s opening drive to a hamstring injury. He did not return.

NEXT UP

Patriots: Visit Giants on Aug. 30.

Panthers: Visit Steelers on Aug. 30.

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