By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 33-30 Panthers: A holding penalty on Patrick Chung helped the Panthers get five more key yards, and they used their final two plays to set up their game-winning field goal attempt with 4 seconds left.
Gano came on to attempt the 48-yarder on third down. Hightower called a timeout just before the snap in attempt to ice the kicker. It didn’t work.
The kick was good. The Panthers won.
The Patriots are 2-2, and they’re 1-2 on their home field.
Fourth quarter, 2:00, 30-30: Brutal. Deatrich Wise came up with a third-down sack. The Patriots were going to get the ball with good field position.
But there was a flag on the play. Stephon Gilmore. Again. Illegal hands to the face. Again.
The Panthers were gifted another first down. Stewart then took it 15 yards on the next play, and the Panthers are knocking on field goal territory.
Gilmore definitely got his hand up high, but that’s not a penalty that necessarily needed to be called. Certainly, it often goes uncalled. But not today.
First-and-10 for Carolina at their own 47 coming out of the 2-minute warning.
Fourth quarter, 3:09, 30-30: There’s just nobody better than Tom Brady. Though having Danny Amendola around certainly helps.
Amendola came up with a HUGE catch on a third-and-3, as the receiver held on despite getting drilled by Bradberry right at the sticks. And then on fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line, Brady waited and waited … and waited, before Amendola finally found some space in the end zone. Brady delivered a strike, Gostkowski came on for the PAT, and we’ve got a tie game.
That went 10 plays, 49 yards in 4:18. Pats’ D needs another stop though. Despite the success last drive, they’ve still been rare today.
This one’s pretty good.
Fourth quarter, 7:27, 30-23 Panthers: The Patriots got their stop.
On third-and-5, Dont’a Hightower burst into the backfield and chased down Newton from behind, coming up with a huge 12-yard sack.
Patriots take over with plenty of time left, needing seven to tie the game. They’ll start on the 50-yard line.
Fourth quarter, 8:35, 30-23 Panthers: Trey Flowers got to Newton on first down, forcing an incompletion. With the crowd going nuts, Newton had to call timeout before taking the snap on second down. There’s still plenty of life in the building.
Fourth quarter, 8:46, 30-23 Panthers: The Patriots are still alive.
On the strength of a fourth-down completion to Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots were able to drive 75 yards down the field to cut this thing to a one-possession game. They need a stop and a score to tie things up. It’s just that “stop” has been hard to come by.
Dion Lewis did the honors on this one, beating Kevon Seymour in open space to win the race to the pylon. It was a bit of a methodical drive by the offense, but it moved at a crisp pace. And with nearly nine minutes left, there’s a lot of football to play.
Fourth quarter, 12:58, 30-16 Panthers: On the third-and-4, Kelvin Benjamin was left unaccounted for up the right seam. Newton connected with his 6-5 receiver for an easy gain of 39 yards.
Three plays later, Newton ran it up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown.
It might be getting repetitive at this point, but the Patriots’ defense is nothing short of a disaster at the moment. This Carolina offense entered this game limping, and yet they’re stomping all over the Patriots.
End of third quarter, 23-16 Panthers: It’ll be a third-and-4 from the 42-yard line to start the fourth quarter. Patriots’ defense needs a stop badly.
By the way, it was an ankle injury for Roberts.
Third quarter, :48, 23-16 Panthers: The Patriots drive didn’t go far, and on the punt, Jonathan Jones was called for a 15-yard penalty for kick catch interference. He was certainly close to McCaffrey, but McCaffrey had pretty much given up on trying to make a catch. Tough one for the officials to call.
Panthers take over at their own 38-yard line.
Third quarter, 2:47, 23-16 Panthers: Cam Newton converted another third down with his legs, this time with a 13-yard run up a wide-open gap in the middle of the line on a third-and-7. On the very next play, he threw to Funchess, with Butler in man coverage. Funchess put a leg in the ground and cut inside, hauling in the Newton dart for a 16-yard touchdown.
Interestingly, Gano missed the PAT wide left, so it’s just a seven-point game. That could be huge.
Third quarter, 4:42, 17-16 Panthers: The Patriots came up with a third-down stop … but a flag flew. Illegal use of hands, defense, No. 24. Automatic first down.
Replay showed absolutely no hands to the face … so that’s kind of strange. If there was contact, it wasn’t evident from the replay showed in the stadium or on the broadcast.
Third quarter, 6:36, 17-16 Panthers: After Cam Newton converted a third-and-2 with his legs, Elandon Roberts remained down on the turf. He’s slowly making his way to the sideline now. If the Patriots’ defense looked that bad with Roberts, the idea of losing him can’t feel good for the Patriots’ coaching staff.
It’s first-and-10 for Carolina at the New England 39-yard line.
Third quarter, 9:17, 17-16 Panthers: Tom Brady had Dwayne Allen wide open running a corner route deep to the right side. There was nobody even close to Allen. Brady was a little late to recognize No. 83 running free, and when he did, he underthrew the tight end badly. Allen did his best to make a catch, but to no avail.
Brady then took a sack on third down, forcing a punt.
After a 13-yard return by McCaffrey, the Panthers take over at their own 32-yard line.
Third quarter, 12:19, 17-16 Panthers: The Patriots’ defense was once again getting shredded. The Panthers were in position to score.
But just like that, a turnover changed the story. Trey Flowers forced a Jonthan Stewart fumble, and Elandon Roberts was able to find it and fall on it.. Patriots take over at their own 7-yard line.
Eric Rowe also got injured on the first play of that drive. He looked to be done for the day. He entered with a groin injury.
Third quarter, 15:00, 17-16 Panthers: Gostkowski dropped his kickoff just a yard or two deep into the end zone, but McCaffrey took a knee for a touchback. Close one.
Halftime, 17-16 Panthers: The Patriots tried to make the most of their 26 seconds with the ball, eventually getting the ball to the Carolina 40-yard line with 4 seconds left.
Gostkowski came on for a 58-yard attempt, and he absolutely drilled it.
So at least there’s a positive for the Patriots to take into halftime, though they know that Carolina’s getting the ball at the start of the third quarter.
Halftime QB stats:
Brady: 17-for-24, 170 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Newton: 11-for-13, 189 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Second quarter, :26, 17-13 Panthers: There are coverage breakdowns, and then there are coverage breakdowns. The Patriots are breaking down in a bad way today.
On a third-and-9, Benjamin a crossing route from the right side to the left, and there were no Patriots even in his zip code. He hauled it in easily for a 43-yard gain to put the Panthers in position to score. And that they did, with Newton throwing to Funchess (over Eric Rowe) for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
It was a tough drive for Rowe, who missed an open field tackle on Funchess on an earlier third down to keep the drive alive when it looked like the Panthers might have to punt from deep in their own end.
Second quarter, 4:30, 13-10 Patriots: Rob Gronkowski caught a ball in stride running up the left seam, hauling it in with ease for a gain of 43 yards. In doing so, he passed Troy Brown for third all-time in Patriots franchise history in receiving yards with 6,393.
But the Pats’ drive stalled out there. White caught a screen pass for a two-yard loss on first-and-10 from the 15-yard line. On second down, Brady overlooked an open Amendola to try to fit a pass into a covered Gronkowski. Incomplete. And on third down, Brady misfired to Hogan.
Gostkowski hit the 35-yard chip shot, though, and the Patriots have retaken the lead.
Second quarter, 9:41, 10-10: The Patriots defense just managed to have zero people on the right side of the field. That happened to be the same side of the field where Fozzy Whittaker caught a screen pass and had five blockers set up. Not ideal defense for Matt Patricia’s crew there.
The Panthers offense made that scoring drive look easy. Seventy-five yards on six plays. It was aided by an overturned call, when Funchess actually did get both feet down inbounds for a nine-yard gain on a second-and-8. But that 28-yard touchdown pass just looked flat-out terrible from the Patriots’ perspective.
Second quarter, 12:39, 10-3 Patriots: That Pats have made their way into the end zone for the first time all day.
On a third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, following an incompletion to Jacob Hollister, Brady came out in a shotgun formation and waited for Hogan to break free running along the back of the end zone. Hogan did, and Brady hit him with a bullet just under the goal posts for six.
That drive went 74 yards on 11 plays over 5:32. The Patriots’ offense looks pretty powerful. There was a hiccup, when Gronkowski was called for offensive pass interference, but that was a distinctly dubious call. Brady threw deep to Gronkowski on the next play, drawing defensive pass interference, which helped counteract the call.
Brady’s now 12-for-16 for 89 yards and a touchdown.
End of first quarter, 3-3: The Pats are moving the ball, not quite at will but nevertheless with effectiveness.
Gillislee ran for nine and then eight yards on consecutive plays, which were identical but to different sides of the field. Brady hit Develin for eight yards, followed by a quick pass to White to move the chains. The quarter ended with a four-yard pass to White on first-and-10, setting up a second-and-6 on the Panthers’ 42-yard line.
Brady was 10-for-13 for 78 yards in the first quarter. Gillislee had 22 yards on four carries. Six different players have caught passes.
First quarter, 3:11, 3-3: On third-and-3 near midfield, Cam Newton threw up a prayer to the right side, where Damiere Byrd was double-covered by Butler and Rowe. Bad idea. Malcolm Butler picked off the pass, looking almost like a punt returner.
Terrible decision by Newton to even try to get that pass to his 5-foot-9 receiver who was sandwiched between two Patriots corners.
First quarter, 4:27, 3-3: The Patriots’ offense had a big 14-yard pickup to Gronkowski on a third-and-5, but Amendola was called for offensive pass interference, thus negating the play and forcing a third-and-15. With nobody open, the Panthers had themselves a coverage sack, forcing a punt.
Carolina takes over at their own 36-yard line.
First quarter, 7:41, 3-3: The Panthers carved up that Patriots defense, marching down the field in short order. But once Carolina got into the red zone, the Pats’ D stiffened. They stopped McCaffrey for four yards on first down, then Newton overthrew Funchess in the end zone on second down. On third-and-6, nobody was open, and Newton tried to scramble for the first down. He was stopped two yards short by Marsh and McCourty, forcing the Panthers to settle for a field goal.
It was a good stop, but still, the Pats’ D looked as bad as advertised on that opening drive. Newton went 3-for-4 for 52 yards, hitting Ed Dickson for 38 of those yards on back-to-back plays in the middle of the field.
First quarter, 11;47, 3-0 Patriots: The Patriots came out with a pretty clear game plan: Pass, pass, pass, pass.
They ran seven plays, all passes, with Brady completing five of them for 52 yards. But Hogan was tackled two yards shy of the sticks on a third-and-10 completion in Carolina territory, forcing a 41-yard field goal try. The kick was good and the Patriots have an early lead.
Brady did miss Cooks on a possible touchdown up the left sideline when Cooks ran a double move and left James Bradberry in his dust. But with the safety coming over to help over the top, Brady came up well short on his pass.
Amendola caught two for 22, Gronkowski had one for 17, Hogan had one for eight, and Cooks had one for five. White and Lewis also took snaps on that drive, with Brady overthrowing White on one misdirection screen.
First quarter, 15:00: With Dion Lewis back deep, Graham Gano’s opening kick went about eight yards deep into the end zone. Patriots start first-and-10 at their own 25-yard line.
12:59 p.m.: It seemed like an uneventful national anthem, in terms of protests. Looked like all players and coaches on both teams stood for the entirety of the song.
12:57 p.m.: Carolina won the toss and deferred. The Patriots will start with the football.
12:22 p.m.: Tom Brady took the field to his usual entrance music for warmups, and around the same time, his TB12 Sports Twitter account shared his little motivational video:
Tom Brady: He exercises. The rumors are true.
11:47 a.m.: And here’s a look at the Panthers’ inactive list for the day:
WR Curtis Samuel
DE Daeshon Hall
CB Daryl Worley
C Ryan Kalil
OT John Theus
QB Brad Kaaya
DE Bryan Cox
11:33 a.m.: The Patriots just released their list of inactives, and veteran linebacker David Harris is a healthy scratch. He’s yet to really find a role on this defense, so it’s not entirely surprising. It is, nevertheless, noteworthy.
T LaAdrian Waddle
WR Matthew Slater
RB Rex Burkhead
OL Cole Croston
LB David Harris
LB Harvey Langi
DB Brandon King
You’ll notice, of course, that Dont’a Hightower’s name is not on that list. He’ll make his return to the field after missing the last two games with a knee injury. Marcus Cannon and Eric Rowe also return after both missed last week.
11:27 a.m.: It really is a wonderful day here at Gillette. A copious — copious! — amount of sunshine is filling the sky, and temperatures are hovering right around 60 degrees. There’s that hint of fall crispness to the air, and when you combine that with the smell of all those grills out in the parking lot … it’s just ideal football weather.
One more note from overnight: rookie tight end Jacob Hollister was added to the injury report with a hamstring ailment. He’s questionable.
10 a.m.: It’s a lovely day for football in Foxboro. Fortunately for all of us, the Patriots and Panthers are willing to play some of that football for all the world to see.
Here at 1 p.m., these two 2-1 teams will kick off in their Week 4 matchup. The Panthers are coming off a blowout loss at home to the Saints, while the Patriots are riding high off their dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Texans right here at Gillette.
But last week won’t matter much once the pads start crunching, so check back early and often for updates live from Gillette Stadium. One of these teams will move on with a tidy 3-1 record. The other will be a most unpleasant 2-2.