TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Cam Newton had a 6-yard touchdown run to push the Carolina Panthers' lead to 21-6 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the end of third quarter Thursday night.
Newton had four rushes for 33 yards during the nine-play, 53-yard drive, including a 19-yard run to get the Panthers inside the 10.
A steady force in two-straight Carolina victories, Newton was again on target early, throwing for 1-yard touchdown pass in the first half. DeAngelo Williams also added a 12-yard scoring run to give Carolina a 14-6 halftime lead.
The Panthers set the tone with a flurry of passes that kept the reeling Bucs backpedaling for most of the half.
Carolina entered the night trying to notch its third straight victory of the season and move above .500 for the first time since 2008.
Looking to avoid its seventh 0-7 start in franchise history, Tampa Bay started rookie Mike James at running back with starter Doug Martin out an injured shoulder. It did little to ignite the offense early, though, and the Bucs had to settle for field goals.
James was mostly bottled up in the opening 30 minutes, but was able to break free for a 15-yard scamper on the Bucs' third drive of the night. That possession soon faltered, though, thanks to a fumbled snap by quarterback Mike Glennon that ended in a 10-yard loss on third down.
Tampa's had another promising drive going a series later, but that also was stunted on a mishandled snap by Glennon, and Rian Lindell kicked his second field goal — a 48-yarder.
Carolina struck first on Newton's touchdown pass to Greg Olsen.
Newton and the Panthers converted on four straight third-downs plays during the 15-play, 70-yard drive. Newton ran for two of the third-down conversions and threw for the others.
The Bucs punted on their opening possession of the night, but got on the board with Lindell's 47-yard field goal.