Carolina cutting down turnovers

The Panthers have struggled all season with finishing football games. But they're hoping the momentum from Sunday's win over the playoff-bound Houston Texans - clearly the young Panthers' biggest victory of the season - will help set the tone for the final two games and into next season.

The Panthers have struggled all season with finishing football games.

But they're hoping the momentum from Sunday's win over the playoff-bound Houston Texans - clearly the young Panthers' biggest victory of the season - will help set the tone for the final two games and into next season.

The Panthers (5-9) aren't going to the playoffs, but they've won three of their last four games entering Saturday's very winnable game against Tampa Bay.

For a while on Sunday it looked as though the Panthers would again give away another fourth-quarter lead.

They led 21-3 entering the final frame, but managed to come away with a big victory that coach Ron Rivera said was a big building stone for the future. It was Carolina's first win against a team with a winning record.

Their other wins have come against teams that, like them, will be watching the playoffs from home - Washington, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.

The Panthers have led in 13 of 14 games this season.

But the fourth quarter has been unkind to them to say the least. They've lost six games in which they've either led or been tied in the fourth quarter.

Of course we all know not committing turnovers is important in the NFL. But the Panthers are taking it to the extreme. Quarterback Cam Newton has not committed a turnover in their five wins this season. They've lost every game in which Newton has committed at least one turnover.

"That's the key to success for the Carolina Panthers," said Newton, who will need another week to take down Peyton Manning's rookie passing record. He's 20 yards shy. "We rightfully could be in that playoff hunt. A couple of wins and we'd be in there. We're just looking forward to the future."

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