Falcons 20

(11-2, 5-2 away)

Panthers 30

(4-9, 2-5 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 9, 2012

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC 

1 2 3 4 T
ATL 0 0 7 1320
CAR 7 9 7 730

Top Performers

Passing: M. Ryan (ATL) - 342 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: C. Newton (CAR) - 9 CAR, 116 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: R. White (ATL) - 9 REC, 117 YDS, 1 TD

Cam Newton dominates Falcons as last-place Panthers hold on

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- An unstoppable Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers got their revenge Sunday on the Atlanta Falcons.

Four days after Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy promised "payback" and "punishment" for the Falcons, Newton threw for 287 yards and scored on a 72-yard run in a 30-20 victory.

Despite playing without four starters and having 13 players on injured reserve, the struggling Panthers dominated the NFC South champions. Newton piled up a career-high 116 yards on the ground and the Panthers racked up 475 yards overall, avenging a Week 4 loss to Atlanta and snapping a five-game losing streak to their Interstate 85 rivals.

It was Newton's first victory in four tries over his hometown team and he admitted after the game it was a special feeling.

"I think this game allows me to have a little chip on my shoulder," Newton said.

Carolina's defense was superb through 2 1/2 quarters, helping build a 23-0 lead and a 356-86 edge in total yards.

Carolina (4-9) came in with little to play for except to gain a measure of revenge on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, whom they felt disrespected them after Atlanta's 30-28 come-from-behind win on Sept. 30.

Hardy was upset when television cameras caught Ryan cursing at the Panthers sideline, telling them to get off the Falcons' field. Hardy responded by saying last week the Panthers were a "better team" than the Falcons, adding a variety of trash talk.

After Sunday's win Hardy turned the tables on the Falcons, repeating several times what Ryan told them back in Week 4 as he walked off the field. At one point Falcons kicker Matt Bryant returned fire at Hardy, saying "Watch us in January."

Hardy left the locker room before reporters were allowed in.

Ryan downplayed the war of words.

"I don't pay too much attention to it," said Ryan, who threw for 342 yards and two scores with one interception. "They were better than us today, that's for sure. They came out and played better than us. We're in a position in our season where we've got everything right in front of us, and we need to get back to work and worry about that."

Said Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn: "It's tough to say that we're overall better than the Falcons because they're 11-2, but I like Greg's confidence."

The Falcons, of course, are headed to the playoffs and Sunday was a speed bump in what has been an outstanding season.

However, the loss will certainly be of concern to Falcons fans that have witnessed good teams in the past under coach Mike Smith either fade late in the season or struggle in the playoffs.

Smith said he'll use the loss as a "teaching point" and that "we have to play our best football here in the fourth quarter" of the season.

It was all Carolina in the first half, beginning with the coin toss.

The Panthers hadn't won a coin flip all year until Sunday, causing team captain Jordan Gross to exalt at midfield by thrusting both arms into the air. Including overtime, the Panthers were 0-13 on coin flips.

"I've never seen people cheering so loud for a coin toss," Gross said with a laugh.

Carolina quickly took advantage, taking the opening kickoff and going 77 yards in 11 plays with Greg Olsen making a leaping grab in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

That set the tone for the first half.

By the time Graham's Gano's third field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired, the Panthers led 16-0 and had run 45 plays to Atlanta's 13, outgaining the Falcons 270-35.

Led by Newton, who had some big runs on third-and-long, including a highlight-reel 14-yarder in which he avoided three tacklers on third-and-11, the Panthers had 15 first downs to Atlanta's two.

"Our offense today is what I kind of thought it would be all year long," Gross said. "We passed well. We threw the ball. We ran the ball well. We blocked well."

Said Panthers coach Ron Rivera said: "This shows what we were capable of. That's the sad part."

Carolina didn't let up in the second half.

After the Panthers stuffed Atlanta on its first drive, Newton faked a handoff to DeAngelo Williams and raced 72 yards to the end zone, getting an assist from receiver Steve Smith, who took out two would-be tacklers with a big block around the 20. Newton somersaulted into the end zone for a 23-0 lead.

"I had a lot of practice blocking playing for (former Panthers) coach (John) Fox," Smith said, referring to Fox's tendency to run more than pass it while here in Carolina.

Ryan threw two touchdown passes and Michael Turner ran for one, but the Falcons couldn't catch up.

The Panthers put it away midway through the fourth quarter. After costly defensive holding penalty on cornerback Dunta Robinson, Williams caught a screen pass from Newton and raced 53 yards for a 30-13 lead.

Game notes

The Panthers played without starters wide receiver Brandon LaFell, running back Jonathan Stewart, linebacker James Anderson and safety Charles Godfrey. ... Rivera ended his news conference early after starting to get emotional talking about the comeback of Thomas Davis, who has battled back from three torn ACLs to be a major contributor this season. ... Atlanta had won eight of the past nine games against Carolina before Sunday's loss.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2523
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6268
Total Yards362475
Yards per play5.87.0
Total Drives810
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders

Smith Sr.710915.6022

Scoring Summary

carTD7:55Greg Olsen 25 Yard Pass From Cam Newton (Graham Gano Kick is Good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 77 yds, 7:11
carFG10:58Graham Gano 24 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 17 plays, 72 yds, 9:17
carFG5:02Graham Gano 41 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 7 plays, 52 yds, 3:45
carFG0:03Graham Gano 31 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 13 plays, 59 yds, 3:35
carTD11:13Cam Newton 72 Yard Run (Graham Gano Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 86 yds, 2:08
atlTD4:53Roddy White 4 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 84 yds, 6:13
atlTD14:04Julio Jones 11 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Matt Ryan Pass to Roddy White For Two-Point Conversion is No Goo)
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yds, 3:41
carTD4:24Deangelo Williams 53 Yard Pass From Cam Newton (Graham Gano Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 60 yds, 2:08
atlTD0:56Michael Turner 1 Yard Run (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yds, 3:18

Research Notes

Through 9 games this season, Cam Newton was certainly suffering from a sophomore slump. He had 8 Pass TD and 10 interceptions. His Total QBR of 36.4 was 31st among qualifying quarterbacks. But over the last 4 games, Newton has 8 Pass TD against zero interceptions. His QBR of 85.7 since Week 11 is first among all qualifying quarterbacks.
Cam Newton posted a 97.0 Total QBR in Carolina's win over the Falcons, the 2nd-highest by any player with at least 40 action plays in a single game this season and the highest by any Panther over the last 5 seasons.
NEXT LEVEL: The Falcons defense was unable to get off the field, allowing the Panthers to convert 9-of-15 third-down attempts. Carolina converted all five of their third downs with 2 yards or less to go. Coming into the game, the Falcons had allowed just 42 percent of such third downs to be converted, fourth in the league.
NEXT LEVEL: Cam Newton's 72-yard rushing touchdown on a zone-read option was the longest option run of his career, and more rushing yards on the option than he has had in a single career game.
NEXT LEVEL: Cam Newton and the Panthers gained 172 yards on 17 play-action plays against the Falcons. Atlanta had entered the week with the lowest Total QBR allowed when facing play action (28.2). Newton's touchdown pass to DeAngelo Williams was only the second one given up by the Falcons this season on play action.
Cam Newton posted a 97.0 Total QBR in Carolina's win over the Falcons. It was the highest single-game QBR of his career and the highest by any Panthers QB over the last 5 season.
Cam Newton is the FIRST player in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards, 100 rushing yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown in a game. ------------- FROM ELIAS: Cam Newton is the 5th player in NFL history with at least 200 passing yards, 100 rushing yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown in a game.

ESPN Stats & Information