The Carolina Panthers pummeled the St. Louis Rams 30-15 in a hot-tempered affair at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.
What began as a football game became a street fight in the second half.
Rams defensive end Chris Long was ejected early in the third quarter for throwing a punch during a skirmish between a number of players from both teams.
To add insult to injury, Long flipped off the crowd after some jeering Panthers fans chucked an empty beer bottle at the veteran pass rusher as he made his way into the locker room.
The chippiness spread like wildfire as the game wore on.
Rams receiver Brian Quick was flagged for delivering a cheap shot on Panthers safety Mike Mitchell.
St. Louis guard Harvey Dahl drew two personal foul penalties for delivering late hits on Panthers defenders.
Carolina wideout Steve Smith was enraged at St. Louis cornerback Janoris Jenkins for making comments about his family during the game. However, the fiery veteran got the last laugh when he beat Jenkins for a touchdown on his 800th career catch in the third quarter.
Meanwhile – in between the flaring tempers, flying punches and personal fouls – Cam Newton turned in one of his most efficient performances as a pro.
The third-year signal caller completed 15 of 17 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown, registering the highest completion percentage (88.2) and third-highest passer rating (136.3) of his career.
The Panthers seized control on the first play of the game when Captain Munnerlyn returned a Sam Bradford interception 45 yards to paydirt.
And they never looked back.
The Rams couldn't overcome a couple of squandered opportunities early in the game. Jeff Fisher's team failed to convert a fourth and goal from the one on their third possession of the game, resulting in a turnover on downs.
St. Louis managed to score a safety on the next play when Ernie Sims brought fullback Mike Tolbert down behind the goal line. However, a Tavon Austin fumble in Panthers territory on the subsequent drive squashed any Rams momentum.
With the Panthers notching their first winning streak in September or October since 2009, the Tar Heel state is buzzing with anticipation.
Have they turned the corner? Have the Panthers finally hit their stride?
Ron Rivera's team, which has overcome an 0-2 start to improve to an even 3-3 on the young season, has won three of its last four games by a 62-point margin.
They have a golden opportunity to move above .500 against the 0-6 division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football.
Kickoff is slated for 8:25 p.m. on Thursday, October 24th.
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