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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates with wide receiver Brandon LaFell (11) after a Panthers touchdown against the Houston Texans in the second quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Newton, Panthers end Texans’ win streak at seven
First Published Dec 18 2011 02:24 pm • Last Updated Dec 18 2011 04:32 pm

Houston • With all eyes on Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers turned to a trick play to stretch their big lead in Houston on Sunday.

Newton took the snap, slipped the ball to Richie Brockel, and the tight end swung around the left side for a touchdown late in the first half of Carolina’s 28-13 victory that snapped the Texans’ seven-game winning streak.

At a glance

Carolina 28, Houston 13

Carolina 7 14 0 7 — 28

Houston 0 0 6 7 — 13

First Quarter

Car » Smith 26 pass from Newton (Mare kick), 12:07.

Second Quarter

Car » Shockey 9 pass from Newton (Mare kick), 12:19.

Car » Brockel 7 run (Mare kick), :55.

Third Quarter

Hou » FG Rackers 26, 11:07.

Hou » FG Rackers 34, 2:53.

Fourth Quarter

Hou » Foster 1 run (Rackers kick), 13:48.

Car » D.Williams 24 run (Mare kick), 9:54.

Attendance » 71,540.

Car Hou

First downs 20 18

Total Net Yards 316 358

Rushes-yards 34-166 25-150

Passing 150 208

Punt Returns 1-1 5-63

Kickoff Returns 1-21 2-84

Interceptions Ret. 2-26 0-0

Comp-Att-Int 14-24-0 19-30-2

Sacked-Yards Lost 2-10 2-4

Punts 5-50.4 2-29.5

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1

Penalties-yards 7-40 6-60

Time of Possession 32:34 27:26

Individual Statistics

Rushing » Carolina, D.Williams 15-61, Newton 7-55, Stewart 11-43, Brockel 1-7. Houston, Foster 16-109, Tate 7-26, Yates 2-15.

Passing » Carolina, Newton 13-23-0-149, A.Edwards 1-1-0-11. Houston, Yates 19-30-2-212.

Receiving » Carolina, Smith 5-82, Shockey 2-35, Naanee 2-16, Olsen 2-15, Stewart 2-8, Brockel 1-4. Houston, Foster 5-58, Vickers 4-29, Daniels 2-29, Walter 2-26, B.Johnson 2-23, Dreessen 2-19, Jones 1-24, Tate 1-4.

Missed Field Goals » Houston, Rackers 49 (WR).

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Newton also threw two touchdown passes and outplayed opposing rookie quarterback T.J. Yates. The Panthers (5-9) built a 21-0 halftime lead, then ended Houston’s second-half rally when linebacker James Anderson intercepted Yates in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter.

But the talk in the Panthers’ locker room after the game swirled around the bold gimmick play from the Texans 7 in the final minute of the half.

"The offensive coaches have basically been working on different things and things that we can mix with what we do on offense," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "I’m not sure which one of our guys came up with this one, but the timing of it was perfect."

Houston’s focus on Newton, the top overall pick, created the opportunity to run the play.

"The defense is so keyed up on him and worried about him making the play," Brockel said, "they sometimes forget about other things and their assignments."

By then, Carolina already had the Texans (10-4) on their heels.

Houston looked emotionally flat after clinching the AFC South last weekend, and its top-ranked defense appeared vulnerable without coordinator Wade Phillips, who’s on medical leave after undergoing kidney and gall bladder surgery this week.

Linebackers coach Reggie Herring made the defensive calls on Sunday, but the Texans could not generate a turnover in a game for the first time this season.


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"I just think the overall theme of the day was, we gave up big plays and there were discipline parts of the game that we were not very disciplined on, as we have been throughout the year," Herring said. "We obviously didn’t execute very well."

Houston gave up only 316 yards, but Carolina converted two Texans turnovers into 14 points.

Arian Foster fumbled on the second snap, and Newton threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith less than 3 minutes into the game. It was the third fumble lost by Foster this year, and Ben Tate came in for Houston’s second series.

Yates completed his first seven passes, but the Texans struggled to sustain drives against the league’s 24th-ranked defense.

Newton, meanwhile, completed passes at key moments, despite finishing with a season-low total in yards passing.

He shrugged off two early sacks to make pinpoint passes to Smith and Greg Olsen for big gains then found Jeremy Shockey for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 12:19 left in the half.

Newton has avoided a turnover in three of four games since throwing four interceptions in a loss to Detroit on Nov. 20.

"I think that’s the key to success for the Carolina Panthers offensively," Newton said. "I look at other quarterbacks across the league and when they do a good job of protecting the football that’s just the key to the win."

Yates, in his third career start, made his first key mistake after getting Houston across midfield in the second quarter. Carolina linebacker Jordan Senn intercepted his pass to Kevin Walter, and Newton calmly guided the Panthers down the field again.

The Texans’ offense looked better in the third quarter, twice advancing into Carolina territory. But Yates threw incomplete on two third-down plays and Houston only came away with two field goals from Neil Rackers.

Houston’s defense stiffened after the break, and Foster got the offense moving again with a weaving, 22-yard run to the Panthers 24. Yates zipped a pass to Walter to the 11, and Foster scored three plays later.

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