CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Cam Newton is looking ahead.
Forget that this is another lost season. The dynamic quarterback believes the Panthers can build on the success of having won four of their last five games.
``It's just something for the team's psyche,'' Newton said after a 17-6 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. ``People ask, what are we playing for this year? It's a respect thing. It's pride. Every single person that's on this roster can say I'm not a quitter. I'm finishing and I'm setting up for something.
``We know what kind of team we are overall, as a whole and we're playing for hope,'' he added. ``Is it too late? Some may say that, but I'm a part of a lot of teammates that aren't quitters and I'm proud to say that.''
Of course, the Panthers won four of their last six last season and stumbled out of the gates this year amid high expectations in his second season at the helm.
Newton apologized after the win Sunday. It had nothing to do with his performance on the field, but rather what he said when he angrily confronted referee Jerome Boger and drew a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in the fourth quarter.
``The words that I said during the game were very disrespectful and I apologized to him during the game, but I'm going public and apologizing again,'' Newton said. ``It was something in the heat of the moment.''
The second-year quarterback made up for it by throwing for 171 yards and a touchdown and running for 60 yards and another score.
Newton's frustration stemmed from a heated game featuring several shoving matches, plenty of verbal exchanges and six unnecessary roughness penalties - including one that sidelined Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer in the first quarter for the rest of the day.
Newton took exception with what he felt was a late hit by Raiders safety Mike Mitchell with Carolina up 14-6.
``During the heat of the moment I felt as if he finished the hit and I had already thrown the ball,'' Newton said. ``I felt like after he threw it he still finished and drove me into the ground. With the referee right there I questioned his decision not to throw the flag on him.''
Boger said after the game he penalized Newton for ``disrespectfully addressing an official'' and that he ``misspoke'' when he announced that Newton was flagged for bumping an official.
Boger said he didn't feel the bump was enough to warrant an ejection.
``It wasn't of a malicious nature,'' Boger said.
Said Newton: ``I have to learn to control what I can control.''
Panthers coach Ron Rivera Newton said he told Newton he has to learn to keep his emotions in check, although he added ``he knows that. He's an emotional guy and he wants to win in a bad way.''
Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly admitted the Raiders were going after Newton following Greg Hardy's hard hit to Palmer's back that sidelined their starting quarterback.
``You take our guy out, we're going to go and try to take your guy out,'' Kelly said. ``We're not out to hurt someone, but when that happens ...''
Coach Dennis Allen said Palmer was taken to the hospital after the game, but X-rays on his ribs were negative.
Earlier in the game Newton appeared to kick Kelly as he got up from being sacked. Kelly was penalized for unnecessary roughness when he pushed back after the play.
``He kicked me,'' Kelly said. ``I guess he thought I was trying to do something to his leg, but I don't play like that. How are you going to react if someone kicks you? Are you just going to take it?''
With Palmer out, the Raiders' offense was rendered ineffective.
Carolina's defense limited the Raiders to 189 total yards and 12 first downs.
Newton and the Panthers built a 14-3 lead at halftime then let linebacker Luke Kuechly and the defense do the rest.
Palmer's replacement, Matt Leinart, managed only 115 yards passing in three-plus quarters and was intercepted once by Kuechly, setting up Carolina's second touchdown of the game.
``That's his first extended action in a regular-season game in a long time, so I'm sure there was a little bit of rust there,'' Allen said of Leinart. ``But, at the end of the day, when you lose your starting quarterback, there are a lot of other guys who have got to step up, and we didn't have enough guys that make enough plays for us offensively.''
Newton accounted for 231 of the 271 yards for the Panthers, who have won four of their last five games under Rivera. It's unclear if that will be enough to save his job.
Rivera is 12-19 in two years as Carolina's coach.
The Raiders (4-11), losers of seven of eight, were held to 47 yards rushing on 22 carries. Their longest play was a 22-yard reception by third-string quarterback Terrelle Pryor on a trick play.
After being penalized for holding on the game's opening drive nullifying a 76-yard touchdown run by DeAngelo Williams, Panthers receiver Steve Smith hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Newton on Carolina's second possession.
Newton added a 3-yard run to make it 14-3 before halftime.
Palmer left late in the first quarter.
After being flushed from the pocket, Palmer set up to throw when Hardy came barreling into him from behind and delivered a vicious blow to the middle of his back. Hardy was flagged for unnecessary roughness and the Raiders received an automatic first down, but was lost Palmer for the day.
NOTES: Kuechly finished with a game-high 13 tackles for the Panthers. At one point he had six tackles in seven plays after he got fired up when officials flagged him for hitting a defenseless receiver. ... The Raiders were held to 47 yards rushing. ... The Panthers have now equaled last year's win total.