SAN DIEGO Cam Newton continued to re-write the Carolina Panthers record books on Sunday against San Diego.
In Carolinas 31-7 win against the Chargers, Newton completed 19 of 33 attempts for 231 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It marked the fifth consecutive game in which Newton has not thrown an interception or lost a fumble.
The second-year quarterback, whos in the midst of the best five-game stretch of his career, has attempted 152 straight passes without an interception breaking the six-year old team record of 150 held by Jake Delhomme.
Hes playing very fluidly right now with his movements and his decision making, said coach Ron Rivera, who complimented Newtons confidence on the field as tremendous.
Newton has benefitted from better pass protection, a more productive running game and his improving ability to read defenses.
He finished Sundays game with a 99.4 passer rating. He was sacked twice and had one of his lowest rushing totals of the season, gaining just 7 yards on four carries.
Newton was visibly limping in the second half after stepping on someones shoe and tweaking his ankle, Rivera said. He also played with a cut on his finger through the second half.
In the past five games, Newton has accounted for 13 touchdowns and no turnovers. The Panthers are 3-2 in that stretch.
Hes getting the ball out, hes hitting all his targets, hes looking downfield, running back DeAngelo Williams said. Hes been the quarterback that we know hes capable of being.
HOMECOMING TOUR: In a season where the schedules aligned so that Ron Rivera faced each of his three former NFL teams, the Panthers head coach went 2-1 against teams he used to coach.
The second-year Carolina coach capped off his homecoming tour with Sundays victory against the Chargers, where he was a defensive coordinator from 2008-2010 before taking the Panthers job.
Riveras other games against former teams came at Chicago, where he was a player and a coach, which resulted in a 23-22 last-second loss. Rivera got a 30-22 win at Philadelphia against his former boss Andy Reid.
Sunday, the Panthers victory came at the expense of one of Riveras mentors, San Diego coach Norv Turner.
Norvs somebody I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for, Rivera said. Hes most certainly a mentor of mine and whenever your guys come out and play hard that speaks well that Ive learned an awful lot from him.
CATCHING ON: Williams had his best game on the ground of the season, but his touchdown, just like the week prior, came on a screen pass.
Williams rushed for a season-high 93 yards on 22 carries against the Chargers. And a tipped screen pass from Newton in the first quarter fell into the hands of Williams, who went 45 yards for the score to make it 21-0.
I had enough time to get under it and I was able to pluck it out of the air, Williams said. There were some nice downfield blocks and all I had to do was run.
He said it was a play similar to the one against Atlanta, when he took a screen pass 53 yards for a score. He has 10 catches for 159 yards this season.
INJURY REPORT: The Panthers knew going into Sundays game they would be without three starters, but they were holding out hope for linebacker James Anderson and wide receiver Brandon LaFell.
LaFell returned for the first time since suffering turf toe against Atlanta, but didnt have a catch. Anderson sat out his second straight game with a sore back.
Offensive tackle Zack Williams injured his knee during pregame warmups and did not play. Rivera said the knee swelled and Williams will have to be examined further.
Running back Jonathan Stewart, center Geoff Hangartner and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards all did not make the trip to San Diego and joined Anderson on the inactive list. Reserve tackle Bruce Campbell and quarterback Jimmy Clausen were also inactive.
Southern California native Ryan Kalil made the trip with the Panthers to San Diego despite being on injured reserve. It was the first game hes been on the sideline since his season-ending injury in Week 5.
The crowd at Qualcomm Stadium was light enough to ensure the Chargers had to black out the game in the San Diego area. On Friday, there were 11,000 unsold tickets.
Though Christmas music was played throughout the day, the stadium DJ playing Blue Christmas with the home team down 14-0 was unfortunate timing.
By the numbers
21 Points for the Panthers in the first quarter, tying a franchise record.
29 First downs for the Panthers, breaking the franchise record of 27.
6 Plays inside the San Diego 5-yard line 10 minutes into the game, the same number the Chargers had at the time.
15 Number of penalties between the teams, with the Panthers owning six of them.
• Its weird coming on a trip and not having your routine of playing. Its cool that I was allowed to come out here and be a cheerleader. Ryan Kalil
• We didnt execute at a high level and they outplayed us. I think Im stating the obvious. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers