CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Marcus Peters stripped Kelvin Benjamin with 20 seconds left, Cairo Santos kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired, and the Kansas City Chiefs overcame a 17-point deficit to top the Carolina Panthers 20-17 on Sunday.
The game was tied when Benjamin caught a pass from Cam Newton, and Peters ripped the ball from his arms . Santos’ fourth field goal of the day split the uprights, lifting the Chiefs (7-2) to their fifth straight victory and 17th win in their last 19 games.
Eric Berry also returned a Newton interception 42 yards for a touchdown as Kansas City’s defense came up with big plays when needed. Alex Smith threw for 178 yards and Spencer Ware ran for 61 yards for the Chiefs, who failed to score an offensive touchdown.
Newton threw for 261 yards and a touchdown and ran for 54 yards and a score for the Panthers (3-6).
The game turned late in the third quarter when Chris Jones sacked Newton for a 12-yard loss on third-and-18 at the Kansas City 28, taking the Panthers out of field goal range. Instead of making it a three-possession game, the Panthers were forced to punt.
The Chiefs kicked a field goal to make it 17-6 before Berry picked off a pass that Newton heaved into the air under pressure and returned it for the touchdown. Smith passed to Travis Kelce for the conversion, and Santos’ third field goal tied it with 4:25 left.
Berry showed why he’s still one of the best safeties in the league with his first interception return for a touchdown since 2013 and the fourth of his career. He deftly made his way through traffic to get to the end zone.
Newton established franchise records for pass completions and touchdowns rushing.
Newton passed Jake Delhomme for the most completions in franchise history with 1,581 with a strike to Greg Olsen in the first quarter and DeAngelo Williams with his 47th career TD rushing.
ODD STAT OF THE DAY
The Panthers had a 20-play drive in the third quarter that took more than 10 minutes off the clock, but came away with no points. Newton took sacks on a second and third down, and the Panthers had to punt.
WHAT WAS THAT
Late in the fourth quarter Smith threw a pass that was batted up in the air. He caught the ball, which is legal, but then attempted to throw the ball a second time. At that point flags were flying everywhere and the Chiefs were penalized 5 yards for an illegal second forward pass.
Chiefs: Cornerback Phillip Gaines left with a neck injury in the third quarter.
Panthers: Kicker Graham Gano was forced to handle punting duties in the first quarter after Andy Lee injured his hamstring. Gano’s first punt since 2010 went for 42 yards but he struggled on trying to pin the Chiefs inside the 20.
Chiefs: Return home to host another NFC South foe in Tampa Bay next Sunday.
Panthers: The Panthers have a quick turnaround, hosting the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.