Cam Newton show: The Panthers scored on the first three possessions of Friday’s game to take a 17-0 lead on the way to beating the Dolphins 23-17 at Bank of America Stadium. After completing just 2 of 6 passes in last week’s preseason opener against Houston, QB Cam Newton was in midseason form. He completed 8 of 11 for 119 yards and a TD pass. Newton completed passes to five different receivers. “Cam played very well,” coach Ron Rivera said. “He had three very solid drives. Running the show, he was very effective."
Scare for Stewart: A week after signing a five-year contract extension, RB Jonathan Stewart limped off the field near the end of the first quarter and was taken to the locker room for examination. “He got kicked in the calf,” Rivera said. “We wanted to be cautious. We were at the point anyway when the first offense (was about to come out).” Stewart returned to the sideline, and the injury didn’t bother him while dancing the wobble with RB Mike Tolbert during a timeout.
Flag day: The replacement referees made their presence known. Miami and Carolina combined for 27 penalties for 279 yards. The Panthers were flagged 17 times for 145 yards. WRs Brandon LaFell and Louis Murphy were both called for holding, and the starting offensive line picked up two penalties. DE Greg Hardy got flagged twice for being offside.
Kicking battle: The position battles at kicker and punter are still too close to call. K Justin Medlock made field goals of 49 and 43 yards without a miss, and Olindo Mare made his only attempt -- a 44-yarder. Medlock was able to reach the end zone with all three kickoffs, but the Dolphins were able to return each of them. Mare had three touchbacks. Brad Nortman had the longest punt of the night, at 54 yards, but it went into the end zone. Nick Harris had a 39 to 37 edge in average punt.