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Notebook: Carolina Panthers 30, NY Jets 20

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Panthers QB Cam Newton’s injury described as ‘stubbed toe’

Cam Newton waited until the last minute to emerge from the tunnel and jog back to the Carolina Panthers’ sideline to start the second half.

Newton didn’t return promptly from a toe injury that sent him to the locker room with one play left in the first half, but in the end, he didn’t miss a snap.

“He stubbed his toe. They wanted to come in and make sure it was OK,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We had a little bit of time, so they took him in early so they could take his shoe off, cut his tape off and take a look at it. But he is fine.”

Newton scrambled on third down and was tackled by New York defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, who slammed Newton down on his left hip and landed on his lower body.

Newton jogged to the locker room, where they did not X-ray his foot. Rivera said he was never concerned about his quarterback.

“Once I got in they told me they just wanted to make sure and that way they would be able to re-tape his ankle and get his shoe back on.”

Head trainer Ryan Vermillion brought two extra pairs of cleats for Newton and placed them at the end of the bench while Newton warmed up.

Newton said after the game he’d be OK.

“It’ll be all right,” he said. “It was a shocker at first. As the game progressed it loosened up.”

Red zone woes : Two weeks, two early trips to the red zone in each, and only field goals to show.

A repeat of their start last week against the Saints is not the way the Carolina Panthers wanted to start Sunday’s 30-20 win against the Jets, but once again they found themselves coming up with three points on visits to the Jets’ territory.

In all, the Panthers went a dismal 1-for-5 inside the Jets’ 20 – a stat that usually doesn’t equal victory.

“We want to get the ball in the red zone – and score touchdowns,” left tackle Jordan Gross said. “But luckily we were able to keep the lead all game and our defense held them when they needed to.

“We scored two touchdowns in other phases. It was definitely a team win.”

Carolina’s second drive resulted in a 35-yard field goal by Graham Gano after the Panthers had a first down on the Jets’ 9. The next possession saw the Panthers put together a 15-play drive that got down to the Jets’ 2 before a 22-yard Gano field goal.

Against the Saints, the Panthers came up with field goals in the first two drives of the game and eventually cracked when the Saints scored 21 points in the second quarter.

“Yeah, we got to get that fixed,” tight end Greg Olsen said. “You’re not going to beat good teams, you’re not going to make a playoff run kicking field goals. Fortunately our defense kept us in there and held them to field goals so we got to get that addressed. And we will.

“We’re usually pretty good down there in the red zone. These last two weeks for whatever reason just sputtered a little bit. We’ll get it addressed. We know it’s something we have to work on.”

Playoff scenario : The Panthers needed to win and get some help in order to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday, and clinch they did not.

With San Francisco beating Tampa Bay, the Panthers would have to wait another week to clinch a spot in the playoffs. If the Panthers win out, Carolina will win the NFC South and receive a first-round bye.

The 49ers, Panthers and Saints all sit at 10-4, but San Francisco lost to both New Orleans and Carolina this year. Arizona (9-5) is also in the mix for a wild card and would hold the tiebreaker with the Panthers if both teams finish with the same record.

“It’s kind of the rule of thumb every year is if we can get to 10 wins we have a pretty good chance at the playoffs,” Olsen said. “Between that and winning your division, those are the two things that give you the best chance of making it, and we’re in position now to accomplish both. We’re sitting in good position now, big home game for us and the fans are going to fired up. We’re going to need them.”

Observations

•  The Panthers finally honored Steve Smith for cracking the top-20 list in all-time receiving yards. Smith reached the mark two weeks ago against Tampa Bay.

•  Despite having the No. 1 rush defense in the league, the Panthers gave up a season-high 157 yards to the Jets. The previous high was 149 yards at Buffalo.

•  Free safety Mike Mitchell was the last line of defense for the Panthers on consecutive second-quarter Jets rushes. Chris Ivory broke a 35-yard run, and then Bilal Powell gained 15 to get inside the Panthers’ 10.

•  Rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson lined up at fullback and got two carries at the goal line. He scored on his second try. Ron Rivera said he had flashbacks of former Bears lineman William Perry on that touchdown.

•  Jets quarterback Geno Smith said he and Cam Newton exchanged contact information after the game.

By the numbers

3 Failed fourth-down conversions, on 13 tries, for Carolina this season.

100 Career starts for linebacker Thomas Davis, who’s playing after three reconstructive knee surgeries.

5 Third-quarter penalties for Carolina after going the first half without a flag.

72 Yards on DeAngelo Williams’ touchdown catch, the longest reception of his career.

33:01 Average time of possession for Carolina, which leads the NFL in the category.

Quotes

•  “Try to win these last two games and finish what we started. There’s still two opportunities to go out and play football, so it’s something to be thankful for.” – Jets linebacker Calvin Pace.

•  “There was plenty of positive today, but the way I am, I’m not even looking at that.” – Jets quarterback Geno Smith.

•  “I told (DeAngelo Williams) he looked slow. We’ll see how much cardio he does this week.” – Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert.

•  “My coaches have engrained it in me so much I’m still not very happy about this game. We gave up 20 points, which is far too many.” – Panthers safety Mike Mitchell.

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