Newton, Panthers rout Cardinals, 49-15 for NFC title

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A Look Back on Cam Newton's Historic Season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Superman is headed for the Super Bowl.

He's taking the Carolina Panthers with him.

Cam Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two others, and Carolina's big-play defense stifled the league's top-ranked offense in a 49-15 romp Sunday for the NFC championship. It was the most points for a winner of an NFC title game.

SEE MORE: Broncos outlast Patriots, grab AFC crown

The NFL's new top man at quarterback - Newton is an All-Pro this season - will lead the Panthers against five-time MVP Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in two weeks.

"Playing the sheriff," Newton said of Manning. "We're going to live in the moment right now. We're going to be excited."

It will be Newton's first trip to the Super Bowl and the second trip to the big game for the Panthers (17-1), who lost to New England 12 years ago. Denver, of course, has made a habit of going to Super Bowls, reaching it for a record-tying eighth time.

"We won as a team," Newton said. "We came out here and fought our tails off and we did what a lot of people said we couldn't do. It's not over yet. We'll be ready to go in two weeks."

And while the Broncos' defense carried it past New England 20-18 for the AFC crown, Carolina's D was just as destructive. It picked off Carson Palmer four times, forced two fumbles by him, and never let up the assault.

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Newton, Panthers rout Cardinals, 49-15 for NFC title
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball in the second half against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Darren Fells #85 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball for a touchdown as Kurt Coleman #20 of the Carolina Panthers attempts to tackle him in the fourth quarter during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball in the second half against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball in the second half against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with Mike Tolbert #35 after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Chris Clemons #29 of the Arizona Cardinals tackles Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers in the second half during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts in the second half against the Carolina Panthers during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Kevin Minter #51 of the Arizona Cardinals tackles Greg Olsen #88 of the Carolina Panthers in the second half during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with teammates on the sideline in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with teammates on the sideline in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Head coach Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers is doused with Gatorade by Charles Johnson #95 and Cam Newton #1 after the Carolina Panthers defeat the Arizona Cardinals with a score of 49 to 15 in the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers hugs with Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals after the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers defeated the Cardinals with a score of 49 to 15. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: (L-R) Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers, Greg Olsen #88, Cam Newton #1, and Charles Johnson #95 celebrate defeating the Arizona Cardinals with a score of 49 to 15 to win the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Greg Olsen #88 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates defeating the Arizona Cardinals with a score of 49 to 15 to win the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after defeating the Arizona Cardinals with a score of 49 to 15 to win the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after defeating the Arizona Cardinals with a score of 49 to 15 to win the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates defeating the Arizona Cardinals with a score of 49 to 15 to win the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Special teams also had a takeaway, and when Carolina grabbed a 24-7 halftime lead this time, it didn't back off, as it did in nearly blowing a 31-point margin a week ago vs. Seattle.

When Newton flew into the end zone for a 12-yard third-quarter touchdown - no, he didn't have a cape on - he posed like a superhero, dabbed a bit, and pointed the Panthers toward the Bay Area and Super Bowl 50.

Newton finished with 335 yards passing and 47 rushing as Carolina won its 13th straight home game, including three in the playoffs.

One of his biggest helpers was Ted Ginn Jr., who was dumped by the Cardinals after last season. Ginn had a 32-yard punt return to set up his weaving 22-yard TD run, and chased down All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson to prevent a second-quarter touchdown. He also had 52 yards on two receptions.

Carolina's defense did the rest, most notably making Palmer uncomfortable in the pocket and turning Larry Fitzgerald, the star of last week's overtime victory against Green Bay, into a virtual non-entity. It led the league with 39 takeaways, and at times it made an Arizona team that gained more yards than anyone look amateurish.

Capping the barrage was All-Pro Luke Kuechly, who returned an interception 22 yards for a score. The 49 points were the most this season for Carolina, which led the NFL with 500 points.

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