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Sports

November 16, 2013

Panthers look to extend win streak vs. Patriots

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The importance of Monday night’s game against the New England Patriots is not lost on Cam Newton.

Carolina (6-3) has won five straight behind the third-year quarterback and is “relevant” for the first time since winning the NFC South in 2008.

“We need this more than anything,” Newton said. “The Carolinas need this more than anything.”

The city of Charlotte is bristling with excitement over its NFL team’s recent success, particularly after a 10-9 win last Sunday against the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. So it sets up for an electric atmosphere when Tom Brady comes to town.

The Panthers haven’t won a postseason game since 2005 and playoff-starved fans sense this is the year to turn it around.

“Everyone has been (hoping) for a magical season,” Newton said. “No one wants to be affiliated with mediocrity, or something that’s just bland, so to speak. For the past couple of years, we know it, the Carolina Panthers haven’t been the hot topic or the hot thing in the league.”

This game could change all of that.

Although the Panthers are gaining some respect nationally — they rank sixth in the AP Pro32 poll, two spots behind the Patriots — they still trail the New Orleans Saints by a game in the NFC South standings after rebounding from a 1-3 start.

“This (high) we’re on right now, no one in that locker room wants to come down from it,” Newton said. “... In that locker room after that (San Francisco) game, you would have thought doggone Jesus came back. Honestly. It was that type of feeling. It was a great feeling and we want to continue having that type feeling.”

Newton said now is not the time to relish a five-game winning streak, but rather to push forward to something greater.

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