The Carolina Panthers beat the New England Patriots 24-20 Monday night when rookie safety Robert Lester intercepted Tom Brady on the final play.
A flag was thrown for an apparent pass interference penalty against Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly on tight end Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone.
“They key the music, and I started cheering,” left tackle Jordan Gross said as “Sweet Caroline” rang out. “Then I saw a flag, and I about cried.”
But after the officials gathered to discuss the play, the flag was waived off because the pass was uncatchable.
The Panthers are now 7-3 and have won six consecutive games to establish themselves as legitimate playoff contenders.
Cam Newton threw for 209 yards and three touchdowns.
On the Panthers final drive, he led the offense 83 yards in 13 plays, capping it off with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tedd Ginn Jr. with 59 seconds remaining.
“He put a drive together that will probably be remembered for a long time around here,” said linebacker Thomas Davis. “The offense stepped up big. Cam played tremendous. He didn’t force things, and he put the ball on the money.”
Newton led the team in rushing with 62 yards on seven carries, and compiled a 125.4 passer rating.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in that locker room that are very relentless, very determined and resilient,” Newton said. “We could have easily given up at the end, folded up tent and closed shop. But we didn’t. We kept fighting,
“I feel extremely comfortable at the end of the game knowing that I’m going to get protection that I can give guys a chance. All I have to do is give guys a chance, and you see what happens when that happens.”
The Panthers, just behind the 8-2 New Orleans in the NFC South, will look to keep their winning-streak alive Sunday when they travel to Miami to play the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium.