Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 12/23/12
By Nick Parker FoxSportsCarolinas.com CHARLOTTE, N.C. Three years. Thats how long its been since the Carolina Panthers won three games in a row, which they accomplished Sunday with a 17-6 win over the Oakland Raiders. But after the game, the bulk of the chatter wasnt focused on the Panthers newfound winning vibes or stingy defense. It was focused on a bump and a kick. The bump came when Panthers franchise quarterback Cam Newton went to hotly protest what he considered a late hit that he thought referee Jerome Boger missed. Boger backed away but stopped as Newton followed, causing Newton to bump into him, resulting in a 15-yard penalty. Although Boger said postgame that his call on the field of Newton bumping him wasnt accurate, he did admit that there was contact. I misspoke when I said he bumped the official, Boger said. What I was penalizing him for was disrespectfully addressing the official. There was some contact between he and I, but it wasnt of a malicious nature. It was where I was moving away and when I stopped to confirm what he was saying we slightly brushed each other. Newton was apologetic after the game. But the NFL, as well as every other professional sports league, has historically endorsed a very strict no-contact policy concerning its officials. I dont know what to say about that, said head coach Ron Rivera of his interpretation of the bumping the official rule. We will just wait and see what happens. Newton said he apologized during the game to the ref and did so again publicly after the game. But apologies or not, the bump wasnt Newtons only extracurricular activities on the day. He also got into it with Raiders defensive end Tommy Kelly late in the second quarter after Newton felt Kelly put a little extra into keeping him on the ground after the whistle. Newton quickly took exception and kicked out in an effort to get Kelly off of him, which Kelly responded to with a hand to the face that resulted in a personal foul. I was trying to get up. You know nothing good happens when youre at the bottom of the pile, so when I get tackled and its a pile up I try to get up as fast as possible, Newton said. If I kicked him with me looking at the replay I realize it looked like I kicked him but I was just trying to get up as fast as I can to get to the next play. It was a chippy game on both sides, complete with six personal foul penalties (three from each team) that largely overshadowed what was a brilliant day from the Panthers defense, holding the Raiders to just 187 total yards. Defensive end Greg Hardy hit quarterback Carson Palmer about as hard as a quarterback can get hit, knocking Palmer out for the game and forcing the Raiders to go to Matt Leinart, who completed just 16 of 32 passes for 115 yards. Its a Panthers defense that was abysmal a season ago (28th in the NFL) but has risen into the top 10 in the NFL in total defense. Anchoring that defense again Sunday as hes done all season was rookie Luke Kuechly, who had 13 tackles on the day (nine solo), one tackle for loss and an interception. He returned the pick 25 yards, setting up the Panthers' second touchdown just before the half. Kuechly, obviously, it was a heck of a performance by him. That defense has turned into a hell of a defense and they continue to grow in front of our eyes, said tight end Greg Olsen, who joked that Kuechly had his Defensive Rookie of the Year vote five weeks ago. The Panthers' late-season surge is largely reminiscent of the one they put together a season ago, winning four of their last six to end 2011 a push that had people praising the Panthers as a playoff dark horse heading into the season. However, this team seems different from the one a season prior. It seems closer to being the playoff team everyone thought they could be. The what-if game doesnt hold much weight, but this is a team thats lost seven of nine games by six points or less. A year ago, the November and December surge was propelled by an offense that began to explode as Newton began to take better care of the ball. And while Newtons surely taken better care of the ball with 15 touchdowns to one interception over the last five games, the defense has only allowed 11 points per game over the three-game win streak. The addition of Kuechly, the return of Thomas Davis, and the emergence of Greg Hardy (11 sacks) across from Charles Johnson has given the Panthers a front seven that has been stout and stingy all season, Rivera said, and allowed a green secondary to make plays. Were just starting to recognize stuff. Were starting to come together as a group, Johnson said. Were just jelling. When we jell, we come strong like that, and everybodys just feeding off of each other.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Tigers, Cubs talking Justin Verlander trade

Richard Jefferson sheds light on Irving's tough time with Cavs

Report: Rangers telling teams Darvish is not available

Report: Draymond Green to be sued for assault

Report: Cavs operating as if Irving trade is ‘inevitable’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jason Garrett continues to staunchly back Ezekiel Elliott

Report: Thunder interested in trading for Carmelo Anthony

Report: Price told Eckersley ‘get the f— out of here’ on team flight

Jerry Jones: ‘I had a wonderful time before this social media hit’

Report: Pirates ‘leaning against’ Andrew McCutchen trade

Devin McCourty: Talk of Patriots going 19-0 is ‘ridiculous’

The 'When George Brett went completely batty' quiz

Finding the possible Achilles' heel for baseball’s best teams

Getaway Day: A pair of aces get lost in the shuffle

Sports & Politics Intersect: Trump casts shadow over U.S. Women's Open

Best of Yardbarker: General managers take the spotlight

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

The unexpected rise of the Connecticut Sun

The National League Wild Card is suddenly relevant again

Kicking It: USMNT struggles to find consistency in Gold Cup as World Cup qualifying nears

Three Up, Three Down: The Dodgers are a complete juggernaut right now

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

Who won the Open Championship in the year you were born?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'When George Brett went completely batty' quiz

Finding the possible Achilles' heel for baseball’s best teams

Getaway Day: A pair of aces get lost in the shuffle

Sports & Politics Intersect: Trump casts shadow over U.S. Women's Open

The National League Wild Card is suddenly relevant again

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

The 'Yoan Moncada era starts now' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker