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Panthers survive Colts comeback to remain unbeaten

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano atoned for a missed extra point by kicking a game-winning 52-yard field goal in overtime as the Panthers stayed unbeaten by defeating the Indianapolis Colts 29-26 on a rainy Monday night at Bank of America Stadium.

After the teams traded overtime field goals, Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly’s interception of Andrew Luck off a deflection from safety Roman Harper gave the Panthers the ball at the Colts’ 39 in the sudden-death portion of the extra session.

The Colts wiped out a 17-point deficit in the last 7:04 of regulation as Luck suddenly got untracked.

Adam Vinatieri’s 50-yard field goal on the opening possession of overtime put the Colts in good position. The Panthers matched it when Gano connected on a 42-yard field goal.

The Carolina possession included a dropped pass by wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. that would have, at the very least, taken the ball inside the 10-yard line.

Quarterback Cam Newton clicked on a couple of second-half drives, putting Carolina up, 23-6.

Newton threw two touchdown passes in less than a five-minute span as the Panthers continued their best start in franchise history by improving to 7-0.

Still trailing 23-20, the Colts regained possession at their own 40 with 2:02 remaining and out of timeouts. Luck’s next three passes were incomplete before a fourth-down conversion. After that, the Colts moved methodically to the 6-yard line.

Vinatieri’s 24-yard field goal tied the game on the last play of regulation, completing a 16-play possession.

Gano’s missed extra point proved costly following Carolina’s last touchdown.

Carolina has won a franchise-record 11 consecutive regular-season games dating to last season. The Panthers have matched last year’s regular-season victory total when they went 7-8-1, which was good enough to win the NFC South.

Newton finished 16 of 35 for 248 yards. He was picked off once.

Luck completed 23 of 47 passes for 232 yards for the Colts (3-5), who lost their third game in a row. Through three quarters, he had only 40 passing yards and was intercepted twice.

Luck’s 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Andre Johnson pulled the Colts to within 23-13 with 7:04 left. It was an eight-play, 86-yard march.

Then Luck connected with tight end Coby Fleener in the middle of the end zone with 2:27 to go, making it 23-20 after the extra-point kick.

The Panthers were on the verge of a crucial scoring drive late in the third quarter, reaching the Indianapolis 1-yard line. A fumbled snap gave the ball back to the Colts, leaving the score at 10-6.

After the Colts punted from their own end zone, Ginn’s 18-yard return helped set up Newton’s 27-yard touchdown strike to tight end Greg Olsen.

The next time the Panthers had possession, the drive ended with Newton’s 8-yard strike to diving wide receiver Corey Brown in the end zone with 10:44 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Of Luck’s first 16 passes, only five were complete while two were intercepted.

Turnovers set up three of the four scoring plays in the first half, much of it played in a bothersome rain. Carolina led 10-6 at the break.

The quarterbacks combined to complete only 10 of 27 first-half passes.

The Panthers began their first two possessions in Indianapolis territory after a pair of turnovers.

A fumbled exchange on the game’s second snap gave Carolina the ball at the Indianapolis 24-yard line, but the Panthers settled for Gano’s 39-yard field goal.

Three plays later, cornerback Charles Tillman intercepted Luck’s pass, and setting up Carolina at the Colts’ 37.

Running back Jonathan Stewart scored on a 3-yard run on fourth down, the second fourth-down pickup on the possession, putting the Panthers on top 10-0.

The Colts got on the board with 10:24 left in the second quarter on Vinatieri’s 47-yard field goal.

NOTES: In three previous Monday night games, Panthers QB Cam Newton had seven passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. … Newton and Colts QB Andrew Luck were the No. 1 overall draft choices in 2011 and 2012, respectively. … The Colts held a 6-0 edge in second-quarter points Monday, but they have been outscored 69-38 in the second quarters of games this season. … The Colts began the night with 10 sacks this season. Panthers DT Kawann Short had five sacks in the previous two games. The Colts added two more sacks, both by veteran Robert Mathis, against Newton. … Indianapolis returns home Sunday to face the unbeaten Denver Broncos, who have former Colts QB Peyton Manning at the controls. … The Panthers complete a three-game homestand Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, who suffered their first loss of the season this weekend at Denver.

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