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Carolina at Atlanta

Turner, Ryan, defense help Falcons rally past Panthers

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons finally played a game that's more their style.

For Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, it was merely another tough loss.

Michael Turner ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns, Matt Ryan scored the tie-breaking touchdown with seven minutes remaining, and Corey Peters came up with a huge interception that helped the Falcons seal a 31-17 victory against the Panthers on Sunday.

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The Falcons (3-3) were clearly intent on re-establishing their trademark running game against a vulnerable defense. Led by Turner, they ran the ball 35 times -- 13 more than they threw it.

"We'd like to be able to do that every week," Ryan said.

Newton, who grew up just a few miles south of the Georgia Dome, wowed the crowd most of the day. He threw for 237 yards and took off on a 14-yard touchdown run that put the Panthers (1-5) ahead 17-14 heading to the final quarter. He even celebrated with Deion Sanders' high-step dance in the end zone, marking a day when the retired Hall of Famer was honored by the Falcons at halftime.

But the homecoming turned sour.

After Matt Bryant's tying field goal and Ryan's 1-yard sneak, Newton made his biggest blunder of the day trying to set up a screen pass. Peters, a 305-pound defensive tackle, caught the rookie off guard by dropping into coverage. Newton flipped a short pass toward DeAngelo Williams, but Peters reached up with one hand to pick it off at the Carolina 40.

"I kind of fell into it," Peters said. "It's a lot different than you imagine it in the sense that when you catch the ball, you freeze. 'Oh, I got the ball!' "

CBSSports.com Grades
Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers
C-
Cam Newton threw three interceptions and the Panthers blew a fourth quarter lead for the third straight week to fall to 1-5. Carolina's defense was gashed by Michael Turner, who ran for 139 yards and two scores. This is a young team and clearly they haven't learned to finish.
By Steve Reed
RapidReports Correspondent
Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons
B
The Falcons got back to the basics Sunday, using a healthy dose of Michael Turner to power the offense on the ground and using a bend, but don't break philosophy on defense. There are still many areas to clean up, but Sunday's game plan looked very similar to those from 2010.
By Knox Bardeen
RapidReports Correspondent

The Falcons offense did the rest, driving 39 yards for the clinching touchdown. Turner barreled into the end zone from 2 yards out with 1:56 left to hand the Panthers another excruciating loss. Their first four defeats were by a total of 18 points, and this one was much closer than the two-touchdown margin.

"At some point, you've got to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what can you do to make it better," Newton said. "I'm doing a self-evaluation as we speak. It's not the time that you point the fingers and say, 'It's his fault.' It's time that we as a team take ownership of ourselves."

Turner also scored on a 1-yard run at the end of the first quarter, carrying a season-high 27 times and breaking a streak of three consecutive games without reaching 100 yards.

"It started with the O-line. They came out with a nasty attitude today, that they were going to move the line of scrimmage," Turner said. "I love to see green, man. You give me some space, I'll do what I do."

Ryan, who was averaging more than 39 passes a game, completed 14 of 22 for 163 yards in a performance that looked more like the Atlanta teams of the last three seasons, not the one that got off to a sluggish start this year and was in danger of dropping two games below .500 for the first time since 2007.

"We need to get our identity back, and that starts with running the football," Turner said. "We want to bury teams, not just let up."

Newton finished 21 of 35 but was picked off three times. The other two were a little easier to take, the first coming on a deflected pass, the last on a desperation pass into the end zone on the final play of the game.

The rookie also led the Panthers in rushing with 50 yards on six carries.

Ryan threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Ovie Mughelli, giving the Falcons a 14-10 lead at halftime. Jonathan Stewart scored Carolina's first touchdown on a 1-yard run, after Olindo Mare opened the scoring for the Panthers with a 42-yard field goal.

The Panthers didn't have to punt until late in the third quarter, but the Atlanta defense took control in the final period. Carolina's final four possessions ended with two punts and a pair of interceptions.

Atlanta did a good job shutting down Carolina's top receiver, Steve Smith, who came into the game averaging nearly 23 yards per catch and more than 121 yards per game. He was held to five receptions for 66 yards.

Newton was playing at the Georgia Dome for the first time since he accounted for six touchdowns in the Southeastern Conference championship game last December, leading Auburn to a 56-17 rout of South Carolina. The Tigers went on to claim the national title, then Newton headed to the pros as the top overall pick.

Carolina took the second-half kickoff and burned 8½ minutes off the clock, finishing with Newton's touchdown scamper. He dropped back to pass, couldn't find anyone open and took off around left end, shrugging off one would-be tackler along the way before dancing like Deion and posing for the crowd in the corner of the end zone.

The Panthers had nothing to celebrate at the end.

"Not good. Not acceptable," first-year coach Ron Rivera said. "We're six weeks into this. It's time for us to start to play like we've been around."

Notes

  • Turner has rushed for 100 yards 22 times in his Falcons career, tied for second in team history with William Andrews. Gerald Riggs leads with 25 games topping the century mark.
  • The Falcons wore throwback uniforms, donning red helmets and black jerseys. In keeping with that theme, Mughelli celebrated his touchdown with the "Dirty Bird" dance, which became famous during the team's lone Super Bowl season in 1998.
  • The Falcons didn't have any turnovers.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Brent Grimes soars to intercept a pass intended for Steve Smith (89) late in the first half.  (Getty Images)
Brent Grimes soars to intercept a pass intended for Steve Smith (89) late in the first half. (Getty Images)

 

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Sun. Oct. 16Final
377017
Atlanta
(3-3)
7701731
PanthersFalcons
Pass: C. Newton (21-35, 237) M. Ryan (14-22, 163)
Rush: C. Newton (6-50) M. Turner (27-139)
Rec: S. Smith (5-66) H. Douglas (2-57)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
FGOlindo Mare, 42 Yd, 4:54. Drive: 13 plays, 64 yards in 6:51.
TDMichael Turner, 1 Yd run (Matt Bryant kick is good), 0:00. Drive: 7 plays, 81 yards in 4:54.
2ND QUARTER
TDJonathan Stewart, 1 Yd run (Olindo Mare kick is good), 10:13. Drive: 9 plays, 81 yards in 4:47.
TDOvie Mughelli, 1 Yd pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant kick is good), 3:49. Drive: 12 plays, 80 yards in 6:24.
3RD QUARTER
TDCam Newton, 14 Yd run (Olindo Mare kick is good), 6:28. Drive: 13 plays, 80 yards in 8:32.
4TH QUARTER
FGMatt Bryant, 24 Yd, 14:12. Drive: 8 plays, 43 yards in 3:18.
TDMatt Ryan, 1 Yd run (Matt Bryant kick is good), 7:00. Drive: 10 plays, 60 yards in 5:25.
TDMichael Turner, 2 Yd run (Matt Bryant kick is good), 1:56. Drive: 8 plays, 39 yards in 4:10.

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Players of the Game

M. Turner
Rush 27
Yds 139
Avg 5.1
TD 2
Atlanta

M. Ryan
Att 22
Comp 14
Yds 163
TD 1
 
Carolina
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
C. Newton21/3523703
RushingATTYDSTDLG
C. Newton650114
J. Stewart748113
D. Williams1244018
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
S. Smith566024
J. Shockey460029
G. Olsen542010
L. Naanee231017
J. Stewart324012
B. LaFell112012
D. Williams1202
Atlanta
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Ryan14/2216310
RushingATTYDSTDLG
M. Turner27139233
J. Snelling31208
J. Rodgers1808
M. Ryan3714
O. Mughelli1000
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
H. Douglas257034
T. Gonzalez329013
R. White221014
O. Mughelli220119
M. Palmer1808
M. Turner1808
R. Kelly1707
J. Snelling1707
J. Rodgers1606
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