First, the two exchanged words on the field about 90 minutes before kickoff. Then they each played key roles in touchdowns drives in the first quarter.
Benjamin caught four passes for 59 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown reception from Nathan Peterman on Buffalo's first possession. Benjamin scored by beating former Bills cornerback Kevon Seymour off the line, and was open when catching the pass at the 2 up the left sideline.
Newton responded on the next possession, completing 4 of 5 attempts for 67 yards as part of an 85-yard drive capped by Christian McCaffrey's 2-yard run.
The bad blood between the two emerged last week when Benjamin criticized Newton's accuracy and questioned why the Panthers used a first-round pick to draft Benjamin in 2014. It was the latest time Benjamin has voiced his frustrations since forcing his trade to Buffalo in October.
Before the game, a video posted by The Charlotte Observer showed Benjamin chatting with Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis when Newton approached the two and attempted to shake Benjamin's hand. Newton waved away Davis, and then had a brief discussion with Benjamin before the receiver began walking away.
Newton followed and the two talked again. The discussion ended when Benjamin shrugged and turned to walk away, and Newton waved his hand at the receiver's back.
Newton finished 6 of 9 for 84 yards in two series. He was nearly intercepted on Carolina's second possession when he overthrew tight end Greg Olsen over the middle. Jordan Poyer got a hand on the ball, but was unable to bring it in to his body.
The Panthers overcame a 17-7 first-half deficit and went ahead for good on C.J. Anderson's 4-yard run 2:19 into the fourth quarter. Mose Frazier caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from backup Garrett Gilbert, and Elijah Hood sealed the win with a 21-yard TD reception from Taylor Heinicke with 5:05 left.
Stephen Hauschka hit a 26-yard field goal and backup running back Marcus Murphy scored on a 7-yard run in the final minute of the first half.
One of the biggest cheers went up when Buffalo's first-round draft pick Josh Allen took over the offense to open the second half. On his first snap, Allen faked a handoff and then showed off his strong arm by sailing a 50-yard pass intended for Robert Foster that just went out of bounds at the left sideline.
Allen finished 9 of 19 for 116 yards, and hit Ray-Ray McCloud III for a 14-yard touchdown with 1:10 left.
Buffalo traded up five spots to select the Wyoming product with the No. 7 pick. Still considered raw, Allen is being brought along slowly and has spent a majority of the offseason working with the third-string offense.
Panthers: Receiver DJ Moore, a first-round pick out of Maryland, had one catch on three targets for 6 yards.
Bills: Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, a third-round pick out of Stanford, had a drive-ending 9-yard sack of Gilbert in the second quarter.
Panthers: Gilbert went 7 of 12 for 93 yards and a touchdown in four series in the competition to replace Derek Anderson as Newton's backup. Heinicke went 7 of 9 for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Bills: Peterman, Buffalo's returning backup, went 9 of 10 for 119 yards and an interception over two drives. Free-agent addition A.J. McCarron went 7 of 10 for 116 yards in two drives to close the first half. Peterman and McCarron have split time with the starters all offseason.
Panthers: S Damian Parms did not return after hurting his shoulder in the second half. CB LaDarius Gunter did not return after being placed in concussion protocol in the third quarter.
Bills: DT John Hughes limped off and did not return midway through the fourth quarter.
Players on both teams stood for the national anthem.
Panthers: Host Miami on Aug. 17.
Bills: At Cleveland on Aug. 17.
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