Panthers 30, Falcons 20

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers made sure they were far enough ahead of the Atlanta Falcons this time.
Still steaming from a blown lead more than two months ago, the Panthers picked apart one of the NFL's best teams, holding off the Falcons 30-20 on Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was the game's leading rusher, picking up 118 yards on the ground to go with 287 passing yards.
The last of Newton's 23 completions went for 53 yards to running back DeAngelo Williams, who did most of the work on the game-clinching touchdown with 4:11 left.
Newton's 72-yard touchdown run -- with a somersault into the end zone -- gave the Panthers touchdowns on their first possession of each half. They led 23-0.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 342 yards, with 117 of those to Roddy White. But the Falcons were slow in igniting their offense, going into comeback mode for the entire second half.
Ryan's 11-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones brought the Falcons to within 23-13 with 13:57 remaining. A two-point conversion pass was incomplete.
Atlanta (11-2) moved into Carolina territory on its next possession, but Ryan's fourth-down pass was intercepted by Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis at the 40-yard line.
Michael Turner's 1-yard touchdown run for the Falcons came with 53 seconds left.
Newton did his work on the ground with seven rushes.
The Falcons, who posted at least 19 points in every previous game this season, didn't score until 4:48 remained in the third quarter on Ryan's 4-yard pass to White. The 13-play, 84-yard drive included a fourth-and-4 conversion from the Carolina 13-yard line.
The Panthers (4-9) talked during the week about how they were intent on reversing the Sept. 30 outcome, when the result contributed to a five-game losing streak from which the team was unable to recover. The Falcons won that game, 30-28, in Atlanta.
Atlanta, which had 35 yards on 13 first-half snaps, gained 31 yards on the first three plays of the second half before punting.
The Panthers scored on the game's opening drive, going 11 plays with Greg Olsen catching a 25-yard touchdown strike from Newton.
Carolina's next possession ended with Graham Gano's 24-yard field goal to complete a 17-play, 72-yard drive that included Newton's fourth-and-1 pick-up and his stirring 13-yard scramble on third-and-11.
Gano's 41-yard field goal with 4:58 left in the first half pushed the edge to 13-0. His 31-yarder on the last play of the half made it 16-0.
The Falcons had the ball for five offensive snaps in the game's first 19 minutes. Carolina had 28 plays during that span.
Newton's 45 first-half rushing yards were more than Atlanta's total output on offense.
Notes: The Panthers won the coin toss for the first time this season, drawing a roar from the home crowd. They chose to receive the ball at the game's start and scored a touchdown on the first possession. ... Panthers C Geoff Hangartner left in the third quarter with an injured left leg. Teammate S Haruki Nakamura left later with a groin injury, with S Colin Jones filling in. ... The Falcons finished 1-2 in NFC South road games, the lone victory by one point Nov. 25 at Tampa Bay.

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