Patriots vs. Panthers 2013: Carolina 'admirable' in controversial win

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina earned its sixth consecutive victory, dropping New England in a primetime thriller.

The Carolina Panthers topped the New England Patriots 24-20 on Monday Night Football at Bank of America Stadium in one of the more compelling games this season.

The contest had it all from some trash-talking by Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, to a controversial ending that will be leading plenty of sports shows on Tuesday.

On the final play, Tom Brady threw into the end zone for Rob Gronkowski, who was hauled down by Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly with the ball in flight. However, the flag initially thrown was picked up, the refs ruling the ball was uncatchable due to a Carolina defender intercepting the pass.

Prior to that madness, there was the third quarter, which did not feature a single incompletion by either quarterback.

Over at Cat Scratch Reader, Edgar Salmingo Jr. wrote about the all-around game authored by Carolina:

The Panthers showed up to play under the Monday night lights, against a high-profile opponent in the New England Patriots. Cam Newton was a world of fire, with 3 TD passes, many long scrambles on 3rd down, and last, but not least, a clutch final drive with a TD to Ted Ginn, Jr., with the game on the line. The defense bent, but did not break, doing enough to keep the team in the game. Keeping the dangerous Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to only 20 points with 2 weeks to plan is an admirable performance by the defense.

Ultimately, the game makes both teams 7-3 on the year. For Carolina, it sits in the No. 5 seed, trailing the New Orleans Saints by two games in the NFC South. New England is tied with the Indianapolis Colts for the coveted second-seed, well ahead of any competition for the AFC East.

Greg Knopping of Pats Pulpit is staying positive despite a tough loss:

Overall, as painful as the final result is, especially when considering the call, this isn't a bad loss.  The Patriots were on the road, against a very good NFC team, and played some of their best football of the year on offense.  And for those keeping track at home, yes, this is the Patriots second loss of the season on a highly questionable call.  But I think I can speak for most Patriots fans when I say that they'll be happy with bad breaks now if the good breaks come for the Patriots in the playoffs.

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