It was one of the most anticipated regular-season games in Panthers history. Carolina (7-3) needed to win to pull within a game of the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints.
New England (7-3) saw its two-game winning streak snapped despite a stellar outing by quarterback Tom Brady.
Carolina's final drive included two third-down rushing pickups by Newton and a third-down defensive holding penalty for another first down. Ginn's scoring catch was his only reception of the game, though it was Newton's third touchdown toss.
Newton completed 19 of 28 passes for 209 yards.
Stephen Gostkowski's 26-yard field goal with 6:32 remaining put the Patriots ahead 20-17, giving them the lead for the first time in the game.
Brady connected on 29 of 40 passes for 296 yards. He completed his first 11 second-half passes, but his next four were incomplete before a fourth-down completion kept hope alive in the final minute.
The Patriots reached the Carolina 18-yard line for the game's final snap, but Panthers safety Robert Lester made an interception in the end zone.
Newton threw a 15-yard touchdown strike to tight end Greg Olsen as the Panthers took a 17-10 lead with 2:10 left in the third quarter. The 13-play drive, which consumed 8:21, was Carolina's only possession of the quarter.
The Patriots responded with a nine-play, 80-yard drive, and running back Stevan Ridley scored from 1 yard out with 12:33 remaining in the game. Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins set up the touchdown, taking the ball to the 1-yard line on a 37-yard reception.
Earlier in the second half, the Patriots tied the game at 10 with Brady's 9-yard pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski on the opening drive of the second half. It was the first touchdown allowed by Carolina in eight quarters, dating to shortly before halftime on Nov. 3 against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Panthers led 10-3 at halftime despite New England advancing into Carolina territory on all three of its first-half possessions.
Carolina struck first on Newton's 9-yard, third-down pass to wide receiver Brandon LaFell. The nine-play, 90-yard drive came on the Panthers' second possession, finishing at the 2:44 mark of the first quarter.
New England's first drive fizzled when defensive end Greg Hardy sacked Brady.
On their next drive, the Patriots appeared to stall on fourth-and-2 from the Carolina 35. However, an illegal-use-of-hands penalty on Carolina cornerback Melvin White prolonged the march, which advanced to the 12-yard line before Ridley fumbled the ball away.
With a 12-play drive, the Panthers increased their lead on Graham Gano's 43-yard field goal with 5:02 remaining in the second quarter.
New England's only first-half scoring came on Gostkowski's 42-yard field goal 1:09 before halftime.
NOTES: The teams met 10 seasons ago in the Super Bowl, with New England winning on a late field goal. ... The teams split four all-time meetings prior to Monday. ... The Panthers entered the game leading the league in time of possession. Their first two scoring drives against New England lasted longer than five minutes. .... The Patriots activated RB Shane Vereen from injured reserve. He had a 17-yard catch on the second-quarter drive for a field goal. ... Panthers LB Dan Connor was in uniform after he signed as a free agent last week. He is a former Carolina player who made stops with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants before returning ... The Panthers placed CB James Dockery on injured reserve. ... New England's next game is home Sunday night vs. the Denver Broncos. ... The Panthers play the Dolphins on Sunday at Miami.