Comeback by Detroit Lions falls short

Lions running back Theo Riddick runs against the Carolina Panthers in Detroit on Sunday. (AP photo)

By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Cam Newton wore a black hat to honor Rosie the Riveter before and after showing he was very focused.
The embattled quarterback threw three touchdowns through three quarters, helping the Carolina Panthers build a lead big enough to hold off the Detroit Lions for a 27-24 win Sunday.
Newton came under fire for making sexist comments to a female reporter this week. He apologized after losing an endorsement deal and getting criticized by the NFL.
The 2015 NFL MVP said he put Rosie the Riveter, flexing her right arm, on his hat after doing homework to learn her iconic impact on World War II.
“I just wanted to have a little notion, a shout out, to all the strong women,” Newton said.
He was 26 of 33 for a season-high 335 yards. On perhaps the game’s key play, he converted a third-and-9 from the Carolina 24 with a sharp, 17-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 2:00 left while clinging to a three-point lead against a team out of timeouts.
The Panthers (4-1) scored 24 straight points after trailing the Lions 10-3 early in the second quarter. Detroit rallied, but could not stop Newton on his last drive to get the ball back.
Detroit (3-2) struggled to move the ball in the air and on the ground until late in the game.
Matthew Stafford, limping after being sacked and hit a lot, threw a 4-yard TD pass to tight end Darren Fells with 5:56 left and a 20-yard pass for a score to the former pro basketball player with 3:22 to go. The quarterback didn’t have as much success connecting with starting tight end Eric Ebron, who dropped a pass in the end zone and had another pass go through his hands.
Protecting Stafford has become an issue. He has been sacked six times in two straight games after being sacked a total of just six times over his first three games.