Panthers shred Dolphins
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton took it as a challenge when the Carolina Panthers defense vaulted to the league’s No. 1 ranking.
He said it was time for the offense to match that mark.
Newton did his part on Monday night, throwing for 254 yards and four touchdowns and running for 95 more as the Panthers piled up a franchise-record 548 yards in a 45-21 rout of the Miami Dolphins.
“It’s nice to see them have this type of breakout game,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.
Newton improved to 5-1 on Monday night games during his career.
“There is something about this stage with him,” Rivera said. “He played a tremendous game.”
Rookie Christian McCaffrey scored touchdowns rushing and receiving, and Devin Funchess caught five passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns as the Panthers (7-3) remained a halfgame behind the NFC South-leading Saints heading into their bye week.
Jonathan Stewart ran for a season-high 110 yards, and Newton had a 69-yard jaunt on a read option as the Panthers racked up 294 yards on the ground.
Jay Cutler had 213 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception for the Dolphins (4-5), who have lost three straight.
The game turned with 41 seconds left in the first half, when Luke Kuechly intercepted Jay Cutler with Carolina leading 10-7.
Four plays later, Newton connected with Ed Dickson on a 7-yard touchdown pass. That opened the floodgates as the Panthers scored touchdowns on five straight drives.
• Bears coach John Fox faces heat after loss to Packers
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — It almost seems Chicago Bears coach John Fox can’t win for losing or winning.
Whether it was a replay challenge he won and actually lost, or the 23-16 defeat the Bears suffered against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Fox was put in a difficult situation.
Now with a 3-6 record, and 29 losses in 41 games as Bears coach, there was plenty for Fox to explain Monday at Halas Hall.
Immediately after Sunday’s loss, Fox said he wasn’t worried about his job security.
“I’ve been doing this too long,” said Fox, who is in the third year of a four-year contract. “I’ve never worried about my job security, and I won’t start going forward.”
The Bears have lost eight of the past nine to the Packers, and have finished out of the playoffs every year since 2010.
Their offense has struggled, in particular, and using rookie Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback the past five games decreased the number of turnovers without providing more scoring.
“I think there’s been challenges,” Fox said. “I don’t think that we’ve been two offensive lineups two weeks in a row. So I think considering all that, and really no different from a year ago, just at the quarterback position, I think I see improvement with us getting our feet wet a little bit at the receiver position, the tight end position as well as the quarterback position.
“Again, we’re 3-6 — that’s reality. We’ve got to get better.”
The Bears were playing without injured tight end Zach Miller (knee) for the first time, and backup Dion Sims was out with an illness. The offense played without guard Kyle Long (finger), and with center Cody Whitehair in his place while Hroniss Grasu played center.
Chicago also played after a bye week, while the Packers had the disadvantage of a short work week following a Monday night game. Yet the Bears were anything but sharp, with eight penalties.
“A lot’s been made about the bye and this happened and that happened,” Fox said. “I think, I mean even losing Zach Miller for the season, that was a little bit of a blow. Dion Sims not being available; those aren’t excuses, those are just realities.
“To have a Pro Bowl guard not available (Long). Those are things that people deal with and not just our team but everybody’s team. I wouldn’t say by any stretch that we were at full strength because we had a bye week. I don’t think that’s reality, and bottom line is we didn’t execute well enough.”
For the second straight game the Bears offense had points taken away because of replay.
Fox on Sunday won a replay challenge but lost points because of it when it was ruled running back Benny Cunningham lost control of the ball just before hitting the pylon.
Fox correctly challenged the spot, thinking Cunningham didn’t step out of bounds — and he was right. The end result, though, was a lost fumble and touchback instead of a TD.
Fox said assistants watching for possible replays to challenge felt the same way he did about the play when he threw the red flag.
“Hindsight is 20-20,” Fox said. “I probably would not challenge that if I were given the opportunity again. And we’ll leave it at that.”
There were absences that made a difference on defense, as well. Losing inside linebacker Danny Trevathan to a calf injury deprived the defense of its signal caller against Green Bay. The Packers ran for 160 yards on the Bears.
“It’s definitely different, he’s (Trevathan) a guy that controlled the field,” linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski said. “He’s a playmaker. But injuries happen. We can’t skip a beat without him out there.”
Fox continued to stress his team is battling, even though they trail first-place Minnesota by four games and remain in last place in the NFC North.
“The last two weeks, actually, we’ve been in a position to be able to win or have the tying score and had the ball and just came up short,” Fox said.
The Bears are 0-3 in their division, heading into a game with Detroit on Sunday at Soldier Field.
“Every loss hurts, but especially division ones,” Kwiatkoski said. “Games like that (Green Bay) we have to win, division games especially.
“We have another division game next week so we’ve got to put that one behind us.”
• Raiders break ground on 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS — In a ceremony that balanced the glitz that Las Vegas embodies and the tragedy from which it is still recovering, the Oakland Raiders on Monday broke ground on a 65,000-seat domed stadium across the freeway from the city’s world-famous casinos.
Prince protegee Judith Hill opened the ceremony with a rendition of Andra Day’s song “Rise Up” as police, firefighters, EMTs and other members of the local community walked through a temporary venue to a standing ovation. Fifty-eight beams of light shone behind the stage, each representing one of the victims of the Oct. 1 attack, which was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton, musician Carlos Santana, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Hall of Famers Howie Long and Fred Biletnikoff were among the crowd that witnessed state and local officials as well as team leaders turn dirt with shiny shovels emblazoned with the Raiders logo.
“Only in Vegas can you turn a ground-breaking ceremony into a show,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.
Contractors will be working under an ambitious timeline as the team wants to kick off the 2020 season at the new stadium. But the Raiders have yet to reach crucial agreements for the $1.9 billion project and now stand to lose millions under the tax reform bill U.S. House Republicans unveiled earlier this month.
The Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas was a plan years in the making after NFL owners shot down their plans to move to Los Angeles. Shortly after, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson announced his interest in helping build a domed stadium on the UNLV campus that could be shared with a pro team.
Lobbying began, and the Nevada Legislature approved a tax increase to contribute $750 million to the project. Adelson later withdrew his multimillion-dollar pledge from the project, and the Raiders chose a different site for the stadium.
UNLV and the Raiders will still share the stadium, but the joint-use agreement is pending.