Panthers 5th in power rankings after Monday night win


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Panthers coach Ron Rivera says Cam Newton played "one of the best games" of his NFL career Monday night and took another huge step in his development as a quarterback.

The Panthers have moved up to No. 5 in the AP Pro32 power rankings after a 4-point win over the New England Patriots.

The Panthers moved up one spot from last week and the Patriots dropped two spots, to No. 6.  See the full AP rankings here.

IMAGES: Panthers beat Patriots 24-20 on Monday Night Football

ESPN also has the Panthers ranked fifth in its power ranking.

Rivera said Tuesday that Newton's performance got somewhat lost in the controversial finish against the Patriots.

For the first time in three seasons, Newton engineered a winning touchdown drive in the closing minutes of a game to help the Panthers beat the Patriots 24-20.

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Rivera says, "The thing that was really neat about it is you see him maturing as a football player."

Newton was 5 of 8 passing for 57 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 18 yards on the decisive 83-yard scoring drive.

Carolina plays at Miami on Sunday.