Atlanta at Carolina

Panthers stomp Falcons for fourth straight victory

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton wasn't flawless on Sunday.

He didn't need to be.

Newton threw for one touchdown and ran for another to overcome a shaky start, the defense intercepted Matt Ryan three times and the Carolina Panthers beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-10 for their fourth straight victory.

Offensive tackle Jordan Gross was more impressed with Newton on Sunday than in the previous three games in which the third-year quarterback played near-perfect ball.

"There were times today where he could have gotten rattled," Gross said. "He took some shots and had some turnovers, but he didn't (get rattled). He kept on swinging."

Newton entered on quite a streak, completing 77 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns -- six passing and two rushing -- and no turnovers in his previous three games.

But he had two first half interceptions and wasn't sharp on his deep balls, regularly overthrowing his receivers.

"He got a little carried away early on and tried to make things happen," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "The ball sailed a little bit on him today and when he's doing that it's because he's anxious. He's excited. He wants to do well. It's unfortunate that he didn't bring the ball down a little bit because there were some big plays left out there."

Still, Newton bounced back to throw for 249 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen, and also scored on an 8-yard run.

Newton called his play "unacceptable."

"I didn't put my best foot forward in the first half," he said.

But his teammates were quick to back him up.

"Everybody gets wrapped up in stats and quarterback ratings and yards per catch or whatever," Olsen said. "At the end of the day, when you go out and you win 34-10 and you are the quarterback -- you did your job."

The Panthers (5-3) pulled within a game of the New Orleans Saints, who lost to the New York Jets.

Fullback Mike Tolbert scored his fifth touchdown in the last four games on a 4-yard burst and cornerback Drayton Florence intercepted Ryan and returned it 38 yards for a score to seal the win.

At 2-6, the Falcons' postseason hopes are fading fast.

The Falcons continued to struggle without Julio Jones and Roddy White. Tony Gonzalez had six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown but the running game continues to struggle as Steven Jackson and company were held to a combined 78 yards on the ground.

The Panthers defense limited Ryan to 219 yards and forced four turnovers -- three interceptions.

"I know Matt. He's going to look at this film. He's going to obsess over it," Gonzalez said. "I have no doubt he's going to bounce back."

The Panthers got a huge break early in the fourth quarter.

Leading 17-10, Carolina's Brandon LaFell broke free in Atlanta territory for a big gain but had the ball punched out from behind by cornerback Asante Samuel. The Falcons had a chance to recover, but the ball bounced right back into LaFell's arms while he was on the ground.

Newton scored on an 8-yard run on the next play to give Carolina a 24-10 lead with nine minutes remaining.

"When you're winning, things happen in your favor," LaFell said. "With all of the bad luck around here last year, that thing would have been lost. We got the luck of the bounce."

The Panthers put the game away on the next possession when Florence stepped in front of Ryan's pass in the flat and returned it for the score -- the first "pick 6" allowed by the Falcons since 2010, a span of 47 games.

"If you play sports long enough, there will be ups and downs, and waves throughout that," Ryan said. "I've played poorly before, but it's about trying to stop that at one, and moving on. I wasn't able to do that."

Carolina led 14-10 at halftime despite the two interceptions by Newton.

Newton's 13-quarter streak of turnover-free football ended when he went long for Ted Ginn Jr. and was intercepted by Desmond Trufant in the second quarter. Newton turned it over again in the final seconds of the first half on an interception by rookie Robert Alford in the back of the end zone, ending a golden scoring opportunity.

Atlanta's only touchdown of the game came when Ryan hooked up on a 17-yard strike with Gonzalez in the back of the end zone.

The Falcons might have had more, but Steven Jackson's 2-yard touchdown run was nullified on a holding penalty on lineman Garrett Reynolds forcing the Falcons to settle for a Matt Bryant field goal.

Notes

The Panthers lost starting right guard Chris Scott and backup Jeff Byers to injuries on Sunday, forcing them to use former defensive tackle Nate Chandler at that spot. ... The Panthers have led at halftime in all eight games this season. ... Jonathan Stewart had 43 yards rushing on nine carries and 22 yards receiving on three catches in his first game this season for the Panthers.

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Cam Newton bounces back from a spotty start to throw for 249 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass. (USATSI)
Cam Newton bounces back from a spotty start to throw for 249 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass. (USATSI)

 

Latest Video

Sun. Nov. 3Final
Atlanta
(2-6)
0100010
7731734
FalconsPanthers
Pass: M. Ryan (20-27, 219) C. Newton (23-37, 249)
Rush: S. Jackson (13-57) J. Stewart (9-43)
Rec: H. Douglas (3-82) B. LaFell (6-74)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDMike Tolbert runs for 4 yards (Graham Gano kick is good). Drive: 7 plays, 39 yards in 3:55.
2ND QUARTER
FGMatt Bryant makes a 28 yard kick. Drive: 14 plays, 70 yards in 7:04.
TDGreg Olsen catches a 14 yard pass from Cam Newton (Graham Gano kick is good). Drive: 6 plays, 34 yards in 3:42.
TDTony Gonzalez catches a 17 yard pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant kick is good). Drive: 6 plays, 80 yards in 2:19.
3RD QUARTER
FGGraham Gano makes a 55 yard kick. Drive: 8 plays, 43 yards in 3:00.
4TH QUARTER
TDCam Newton runs for 8 yards (Graham Gano kick is good). Drive: 7 plays, 66 yards in 4:29.
TDDrayton Florence makes a 38 yard interception return (Graham Gano kick is good).
FGGraham Gano makes a 20 yard kick. Drive: 10 plays, 61 yards in 5:25.
Players of the Game
Carolina

G. Olsen
Rec 4
Yds 66
Avg 16.5
TD 1

T. Gonzalez
Rec 6
Yds 81
Avg 13.5
TD 1
 
Atlanta
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Ryan20/2721913
RushingATTYDSTDLG
S. Jackson1357013
J. Rodgers519010
M. Ryan2203
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
H. Douglas382041
T. Gonzalez681119
J. Rodgers625011
S. Jackson319014
D. Johnson110010
D. Davis1202
Carolina
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
C. Newton23/3724912
RushingATTYDSTDLG
J. Stewart943016
D. Williams134209
M. Tolbert62419
C. Newton522112
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
B. LaFell674030
G. Olsen466123
S. Smith452023
J. Stewart322010
M. Tolbert31307
D. Williams21209
T. Ginn110010
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
CIN 20 Final
MIA 22
KC 23 Final
BUF 13
MIN 23 Final
DAL 27
NO 20 Final
NYJ 26
TEN 28 Final
STL 21
SD 24 Final
WAS 30
PHI 49 Final
OAK 20
TB 24 Final
SEA 27
BAL 18 Final
CLE 24
PIT 31 Final
NE 55
IND 27 Final
HOU 24
CHI 27 Final
GB 20