It's a play the Panthers have practiced for a while, but had never used in a game.
"He gave me a catchable ball and put the pressure on me to make the play," Newton said. "In practice, I can't get hit and it goes for touchdowns. ... I was trying to get him to the Pro Bowl with the highest quarterback rating, but that didn't work out."
Stewart's 1-yard run put Carolina up 14-0. Newton leaped over the pile to finish an 83-yard, game-opening march and tied the record for rushing TDs by a quarterback to make it 31-12 in the third quarter. His third TD, giving him the record, a 15-play, 91-yard drive that lasted nearly eight minutes.
"I'm not going to sit up here and say it doesn't mean something," Newton said of the record. "I'm not focusing on individualism in this game. It's still 11-on-11. I don't think I could've done anything without those other 10 guys, most importantly the five guys who are blocking their tails off each and every snap."
Connor Barth kicked field goals of 50, 47, 46 and 44 yards for Tampa Bay in the first half. Johnson finally got the Bucs into the end zone when he threw a 23-yard TD pass to Dezmon Briscoe with 6:35 remaining.
In addition to completing 16 of 27 passes and being intercepted once, Johnson led Tampa Bay with 45 yards rushing on five attempts. LeGarrette Blount, coming off consecutive 100-yard games, was limited to 19 yards on 11 carries.
"It's very satisfying. The big thing that's really exciting is we have a bunch of young guys who have gone through so much, now they're seeing some rewards," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said.
"I think we do have a run in us. We've got good football teams coming — Atlanta, Houston, Tampa again," Rivera said. We've got to continue to work. We need to finish strong. We do expect to build on this and gain momentum."
Notes: Former Bucs tight end Jimmie Giles was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony. ... Panthers WR Steve Smith had two receptions for 32 yards, leaving him 24 shy of 10,000 for his career.
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