CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton threw his first touchdown pass as a pro in Charlotte’s 33-17 loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday night. After the game Charlotte coach Ron Rivera made it official: Newton will start the season opener at Arizona.
The Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 draft pick out of Auburn played only the first series for the Panthers (1-3). He was 3 of 5 for 25 yards with the 10-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey against a Steelers defense that rested Troy Polamalu and several other key players.
Charlie Batch started for Pittsburgh (3-1) and was 6 of 8 for 59 yards and led a touchdown drive while playing roughly one quarter. He and Dennis Dixon are competing to back up Ben Roethlisberger, who also sat this one out.
Newton led the Panthers 71 yards to a touchdown, and his only carry of that drive was a 19-yard run. That set up the touchdown pass four plays later, when he dropped back and hit Shockey with a quick strike inside the 10. The veteran tight end slipped out of Ryan Mundy’s grasp on his way to the end zone.
Ravens 21, Falcons 7
ATLANTA — Chykie Brown returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown and Baltimore scored the clincher after another Atlanta turnover.
Both teams sat out of many of their key starters, including quarterbacks Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Joe Flacco of the Ravens (3-1).
Third-string quarterback John Parker Wilson of the Falcons (0-4) was intercepted twice, including the pick that Brown, a rookie, took down the sideline for a touchdown that erased Atlanta’s 10-7 lead with 1:59 left in the third.
The Falcons failed to win a preseason game for the first time since 2003.
Redskins 29, Buccaneers 24
LANDOVER, Md. — Given a chance to make a closing argument in his case to be the starting quarterback for Washington (3-1), John Beck turned in a spotty performance, completing 10 of 21 passes for 108 yards with an interception.
Beck played the entire first half with the starting offensive line and backup running backs and receivers, while the Buccaneers (2-2) gave all of their first-stringers the night off. The Redskins’ offense produced 10 points in Beck’s eight series, but the touchdown and the field goal both came on short fields after the defense forced a turnover.
Beck and Rex Grossman have been in a battle since the opening of training camp.
Bears 24, Browns 14
CHICAGO — Johnny Knox came up with an over-the-shoulder touchdown catch for Chicago (2-2).
Knox made his catch early, backup quarterback Caleb Hanie looked sharp for the Bears.
Hanie started the game by leading the reigning NFC North champions on a 76-yard drive that ended in a 22-yard field goal for Robbie Gould, and he wound up completing 7 of 10 passes for 83 yards on two possessions before Nathan Enderle took over.
Knox had two catches for 33 yards.
Seneca Wallace started at quarterback for Colt McCoy and struggled, going 4 of 9 with 52 yards for the Browns (1-3). Jarrett Brown completed 10 of 15 for 92 yards and he hit Rod Windsor on a 38-yard TD early in the fourth quarter that pulled Cleveland within 17-14 but also threw an interception.
Vikings 28, Texans 0
MINNEAPOLIS — Christian Ponder directed two touchdown drives and make a push for the backup quarterback job with Minnesota (2-2).
Ponder was 10 of 17 for 83 yards and one touchdown. He rushed eight times for 61 yards and didn’t turn the ball over while playing just over two quarters.
Ponder is competing with Joe Webb to be the primary backup to Donovan McNabb. Webb went 5 for 6 for 43 yards.
Matt Leinart was 13 for 16 for 145 yards for the Texans (3-1), looking efficient as he prepares to back up Matt Schaub this season. Newly signed receiver Bryant Johnson had three catches for 64 yards.
Adrian Awasom had two sacks and a forced fumble and Caleb King rushed for 62 yards and two touchdowns for the Vikings.
Titans 32, Saints 9
NEW ORLEANS — Tennessee rookie quarterback Jake Locker, who is expected to press Matt Hasselbeck for the starting job at some point this season, completed 15 of 17 for 132 yards and a touchdown. He had a 118.6 quarterback rating, playing just over three quarters. Locker ran 22 yards for a TD.
Saints (2-2) backup QB Sean Canfield was not as impressive, completing 29 of 39 for 249 yards. He was sacked twice. His only TD drive came in the fourth quarter when Montez Billings capped a 66-yard drive with a 2-yard reception.
The Titans (3-1) briefly played 10 of their regular starters, including Hasselbeck, who took nine snaps, and five defensive starters.
Tennessee agreed to a $56 million, six-year deal with starting running back Chris Johnson earlier Thursday.
Cardinals 26, Broncos 7
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Brady Quinn was just 4 of 12 for 26 yards with one interception in one half of play for Denver in the loss to Arizona.
Tim Tebow came on after halftime for Denver to complete 7 of 11 for 116 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown pass to Eron Riley with 2:57 to play.
Rich Bartel completed 12 of 16 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns in the first half for the Cardinals (2-2). Arizona’s Jay Feely kicked field goals of 37, 25, 52 and 34 yards.
Former Philadelphia linebacker Stewart Bradley, signed as a free agent, intercepted Quinn’s pass and returned it 27 yards to the Denver 10-yard line with 1:55 left in the first half to set up Feely’s second field goal.
The Cardinals outgained Denver (2-2) 254-46 while building a 20-0 halftime lead.
Brodie Croyle, the former Kansas City backup signed when John Skelton and Max Hall were injured, played the entire second half in his first game action for Arizona. He completed 10 of 16 for 104 yards.
49ers 20, Chargers 17
SAN DIEGO — Anthony Dixon capped San Francisco’s first two drives with 1-yard touchdown runs.
The Chargers’ first-string defense didn’t look impressive against the 49ers’ running game, allowing 54 yards on the ground on San Francisco’s opening drive, which covered 80 yards behind starter Alex Smith.
The 49ers (2-2) had six sacks.
Smith was in for the first two drives as the 49ers rebounded from an embarrassing 30-7 loss to Houston.
Chargers running back Ryan Mathews, coming off an uneven rookie season, showed his speed with a 56-yard scoring burst in the second quarter. Rookie quarterback Scott Tolzien threw an interception for San Diego (2-2) and was sacked five times. He also threw a nine-yard TD pass to Seyi Ajirotutu.