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Newton, Panthers heating up a little too late

Monday - 12/10/2012, 5:14pm  ET

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) dives into the end zone for a touchdown as Atlanta Falcons' Chris Owens (21) pursues during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers offense are finally hitting their groove.

Too bad for Carolina it's a case of too little, too late.

At 4-9, Carolina's playoff aspirations evaporated several weeks ago, but Newton's vastly improved play in recent weeks gives promise that his stellar rookie season in 2011 was far from a fluke and better times are ahead.

After a rough start this season, Newton has tallied 1,363 yards from scrimmage with 11 combined touchdowns and, here's the really impressive part, no turnovers in the past four games.

Carolina piled up 365 yards of offense in 2
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