CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton led a pair of field-goal drives in his NFL debut, and Jimmy Clausen threw a touchdown pass to Greg Olsen to help the Carolina Panthers beat the New York Giants 20-10 in a preseason game Saturday night.
Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn and top overall pick in the NFL draft, had mixed results. He struggled with his accuracy and twice failed to get the Panthers into the end zone on promising first-half drives. But he also showed plenty of zip on his throws and brought some big-play potential to the league’s worst offense last season.
Newton completed 8 of 19 throws for 134 yards, including a pair of completions of at least 30 yards. He entered the game to loud cheers on Carolina’s first drive of the second quarter and left early in the fourth.
Michael Boley returned an interception 56 yards for a score in the game’s opening minutes for the Giants’ only touchdown.
It was a forgettable night for New York’s offense, which never reached the end zone. Lawrence Tynes missed two field goals and had another blocked in the fourth.
The game also marked the debut of Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who replaced John Fox as the franchise begins a significant overhaul.
Newton’s arrival seems sure to provide a spark and renewed fan interest for a team coming off a two-win season. The loudest cheers of the night came when Newton put on his helmet and ran onto the field to replace Clausen with 14:21 left in the second quarter.
His first throw was a safe one, a rollout to the right on play action for a short pass to Olsen that the tight end turned into a 10-yard gain. A few plays later, Newton found Olsen again with an on-the-button throw to the left for a 30-yard gain that set up a first-and-goal.
But Newton twice failed to connect with Brandon LaFell in the end zone, forcing Carolina to settle for a field goal. Newton also led the Panthers on a 54-yard drive in the final minute of the half, but rushed a pass against pressure and overthrew an open Armanti Edwards at the goal line to set up another field goal for a 13-10 halftime lead.
Still, Newton avoided big mistakes and took care of the football. The same couldn’t be said of Clausen, who heard boos from the moment his second pass hit Boley in the hands barely 2 minutes in. When the next drive ended with Clausen taking a third-down sack, some fans stopped booing long enough only to begin chants of “Cam! Cam!”
Clausen salvaged his night by finding Olsen for an 18-yard touchdown on the next possession.
New York coach Tom Coughlin didn’t see any such bounceback from his offense.
Eli Manning didn’t lead a scoring drive in his five series, completing 4 of 9 passes for just 36 yards. He also slightly overthrew Hakeem Nicks on what could’ve been a big third-down gain on his first possession, forcing Tynes to try a 56-yard field goal.
His final series ended when the Panthers stopped Brandon Jacobs on a third-and-short carry midway through the second quarter. Then, after recovering a fumble from Mike Goodson in Carolina territory, the Giants came up empty again when Tynes missed a 37-yard kick.
Carolina added an insurance score when Derek Anderson found Kealoha Pilares for a 35-yard touchdown in the fourth.