CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Cam Newton dispelled any notion that the Panthers' offense isn't built to erase big deficits.
Newton threw two touchdown passes to Greg Olsen and the Carolina's defense forced four turnovers to overcome a 14-point deficit and defeat the Chicago Bears 31-24 on Sunday.
With the game tied at 24, Carolina's Antoine Cason stripped Matt Forte of the ball and the Panthers' Kawaan Short recovered at Chicago's 23. Six plays later, Newton found Olsen on a slant route for a 6-yard touchdown for the go-ahead score with 2:18 left.
The Panthers sealed the win when Short sacked Jay Cutler and Charles Johnson recovered as the Panthers (3-2) snapped a two-game losing streak and reclaimed first place in the NFC South.
Newton was 19 of 35 for 255 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception. Olsen had six catches for 72 yards.
Cutler was 28 of 36 for 289 yards with two TDs, but turned the ball over three times for the Bears (2-3). Forte had 61 yards rushing and 105 yards receiving and a touchdown before his costly fumble.
The Bears had a 21-7 lead late in the first half and seemed in control until the momentum changed when Robbie Gould missed a 35-yard field goal.
The Panthers went to a no-huddle offense in the final two minutes of the first half and Newton was 5 of 6 passing for 72 yards on the drive, including a 9-yard TD strike to Olsen, the former Bears tight end, to cut the lead to 21-14 with 12 seconds left.
"It was a shot in the arm to us," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.
Carolina stayed with the no-huddle in the third quarter and Newton drove the Panthers 86 yards on 10 plays, and Chris Ogbonnaya — signed earlier this week following a slew of injuries in the backfield — scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 21.
Gould put the Bears back up by 3 with a 45-yard field goal late in the third quarter, but the Panthers tied it back up when Thomas DeCoud intercepted Cutler on an overthrown pass setting up a field goal by Graham Gano with 4:29 left.
The Panthers jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a bizarre special teams play.
As Carolina returner Philly Brown attempted to field a punt, he was hit by Chicago's Teddy Williams before the ball arrived. As flags flew, a scramble for the ball ensued. Brown got up after being hit, picked up the ball and raced 79 yards untouched along the left sideline for the score.
But Chicago's defense quickly took control with back-to-back takeaways leading to a pair of touchdowns.
Cornerback Isaiah Frey stripped Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin of the ball on Carolina's next possession and recovered at the Panthers 28, setting up a 10-yard TD pass from Cutler to Forte. Chicago's Willie Young beat guard Amini Silatolu and for a strip-sack fumble on Newton and Lamarr Houston recovered at the Carolina 13 on the next possession. Three plays later Cutler scrambled 10 yards on third-and-8 for a touchdown to give Chicago a 14-7 lead.
Cutler pushed the lead to 21-7 when he beat the Panthers on a cornerback blitz, flipping the ball out to the flat where Alshon Jeffery raced around two defenders for a 25-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
NOTES: Panthers cornerback Josh Norman left with a shoulder injury. ... Bears safety Chris Conte left with a concussion. ... The win was Rivera's first against the team he helped win a Super Bowl in 1985.