banner
Carolina Panthers

Game Blog: Panthers defeat Falcons, win NFC South

Posted December 29, 2013

7:14 fourth quarter; Carolina 21, Atlanta 20: The Falcons trimmed the Panthers lead to one point with a 37 yard field goal midway through the fourth.

4:30 third quarter; Carolina 21, Atlanta 17: Cam Newton passed to Greg Olsen at the goal line for a 7 yard touchdown pass to give the Panthers the lead over Atlanta. 

9:58 third quarter; Atlanta 17, Carolina 14: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan found Roddy White for a 39 yard touchdown pass to put Atlanta back in the lead.

0:19 second quarter; Carolina 14, Atlanta 10: Panthers Mike Tolbert bulldozed his way into a first down and some to set up a three yard pass from Cam Newton to Tedd Ginn, Jr. for the touchdown late in the first half.

7:57 second quarter; Atlanta 10, Carolina 7: In a crazy turn of events, DeAngelo Williams broke a long run then fumbled on the Falcons 20 yard line. Atlanta recovered deep in their own territory. But on their second offensive play, Matt Ryan was picked by Melvin White for a Panthers 8 yard touchdown. 

10:05 second quarter; Atlanta 10, Carolina 0: Matt Bryant hit a 42 yard field goal to extend the Falcons lead to 10-0.

8:49 first quarter; Atlanta 7, Carolina 0: Matt Ryan connected with Jason Snelling for a nine yard touchdown pass. The Falcons drove 80 yards in 6:17 minutes on their opening drive.


The status of Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera seemed bleak after a 6-10 finish last season.

Rivera was given one last chance by owner Jerry Richardson and it didn't look good after a 1-3 start. The Panthers, though, rallied behind their coach with eight straight wins and 10 in the last 11 games, and look for a NFC South title and a first-round bye Sunday on the road against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Panthers have an 11-4 record, the best since going 12-4 back in 2008 and reaching the playoffs, and pulled off a 17-13 win at home over the rival New Orleans Saints last Sunday. The win clinched a postseason spot for Carolina, which hasn't won a division crown since 2008.
Carolina can win the NFC South and capture a first-round bye with a win Sunday or a loss by New Orleans. The Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton shook a rusty start to last week's win and his 14-yard touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds remaining in the game sealed the victory. Newton threw for 181 yards on 13-of-21 passing with a touchdown strike and an interception to keep Carolina in contention for the No. 2 seed in the conference.

Carolina can also secure home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win combined with a Seattle loss and a San Francisco win. The Seahawks host St. Louis, while the 49ers visit Arizona.

"It's exciting, but we still have a lot business left at hand," Rivera said.

Rivera also said Newton "tweaked" his ankle, but it shouldn't keep him from missing Sunday's game at the Georgia Dome. The setback limited Newton to six yards on four carries.

Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith sat out the entire second half after injuring his left knee while attempting a catch in the first quarter, and his status for Sunday's game is in doubt. Smith, who feared he may have torn the ACL, has a PCL sprain and will be treated week-to-week.

"He's very optimistic," Rivera said. "I said to him, 'Hey, it's good news.' And he said, 'Well, it doesn't feel very good right now coach, but you know me.'
"We do know Steve. He's tenacious, and he'll do everything he can, believe me. He's going to work very, very hard."

Smith had one catch for 44 yards and owns 745 receiving yards and four touchdowns this season. Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said it's time for other players to step it up if Smith can't go Sunday or in the playoffs, so that means leading receiver and tight end Greg Olsen (774 yards) and receivers Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. will see more balls.

Running back DeAngelo Williams ran for 67 yards on 12 carries, including a 43- yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Williams has rushed for 50 or more yards in three straight games.

Atlanta will put the finishing touches on what has been a disappointing season. One season after going 13-3 with an NFC South and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Falcons were decimated by injuries, a poor running game and a spotty defense.

One could probably guess it's a bad season when Harry Douglas is the leading receiver with 1,009 yards for a team with Roddy White, Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez. Quarterback Matt Ryan still passed for more than 4,000 yards for a third straight season, but he also threw a career-high 16 interceptions to go along with 24 TD passes.

Ryan has four INTs and five TD passes in his last three games.

Besides closing out a losing season for the 4-11 Falcons, they will witness the end of arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history. Gonzalez is set to retire at season's end and came back for one more campaign in hopes of reaching the Super Bowl. Ryan's career accelerated with the addition of Gonzalez a few seasons ago and he wants to see the big man dunk the ball over the goal post one last time.

"Seeing him throw the ball over the goal post another time would be a good finish to his career," Ryan said.

Ryan, of course, has to get Gonzalez the ball. The chiseled tight end is fifth in NFL history with 15,071 receiving yards and has a reception in 210 consecutive games.

"I think guys know that we want to send him out with a win," Ryan said. "We'd love to be able to do that. We're going to do everything we can during the week to prepare ourselves to be ready to do that. We'd love to see him play well and go away with a win."

The Falcons have lost seven of their last nine games and dropped a 34-10 decision at Carolina on Nov. 3. Gonzalez had 81 yards and a touchdown on six receptions, but Ryan was intercepted three times. Falcons first-year running back Steven Jackson posted 57 yards on 13 carries in that one and has amassed just 502 yards on the ground in 11 games.

Atlanta has won seven of the last 11 meetings with the Panthers under head coach Mike Smith and leads the all-time series 23-14. The Falcons have prevailed in each of the previous five matchups at home.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Newton had a subpar performance in the win versus Atlanta almost two months ago and completed 23-of-37 passes for 249 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He run for 22 yards and a score, but wants an even better showing in his hometown with a lot on the line.

"I don't think we're going into this game looking at winning for the bye week," Newton said. "We're going into this game winning because we have to. Of course, we know what's riding on this game."

With his rusty game last week and a lack of offense most of the afternoon, Newton knows as a leader of the team players have to step it up.

"Offensive performances haven't been very great ... especially this past week," Newton continued. "I'm starting with myself, saying I have to be better. I will be better. I'm expecting myself to be better, and things will have to change offensively."

LaFell and Olson ended with 74 and 66 yards, respectively, against Atlanta and Smith ended with 52 yards on four receptions.

The last time the Panthers visited the Georgia Dome they dropped a tough 30-28 decision on Matt Bryant's 40-yard field goal with five seconds to go. Ryan passed for 369 yards with three TD strikes and an interception, while Newton recorded 215 yards, two scores and no INTs.

"We had a heartbreaking loss last year in the Georgia Dome," Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. "But it seems like everything is going our way this year. This is a different team."

The Falcons' Smith has seen an improvement in Newton, especially in 2013.

"I think Mike Shula has done a great job with Cam in terms of their third down efficiency. They're very good. They're doing a good job of taking care of the ball," Smith said. "They're not turning it over, and you combine that with what they are doing on defense, not giving up points and taking the ball away, it is a good formula. I think he is doing a very good job in his progressions in the passing game and spreading the ball around."

Carolina's defense has improved vastly this season and must not underestimate Ryan and the Falcons in Week 17.

"This is an important game, and we know that," Rivera said.

Atlanta is hoping linebacker Sean Weatherspoon can return from a knee injury, but he is doubtful. Weatherspoon hasn't played since Dec. 15 versus Washington. Defensive tackle Corey Peters won't see the field Sunday after he was placed on injured reserve with a ruptured his right Achilles.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Carolina was able to keep the high-powered Saints grounded last week because New Orleans tends to struggle on the road. Atlanta is 3-4 at home and has a legitimate shot at putting a wrench in the Panthers' plans of improving their playoff status.

Expect a strong defensive effort from both teams Sunday, while Newton will do just enough to help Carolina clinch the NFC South with a close win.

25 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Jack + Coke Dec 29, 2013

    View quoted thread

    You will do exactly as you are told BOY!

  • mittnfriends Dec 29, 2013

    View quoted thread


    "Armchair Recliner Coaches" - aren't we all? kinda? just a little?

    Like I said; up by 1 point, time winding down, Matt Ryan ready to have the final say. I may have no business coaching a pop-warner team, but I do know the odds of Matt Ryan getting his team in field goal range are probably similar(being generous there, out of respect for your argument) to the odds of the current Carolina offense turning the ball over.

    And if you just don't want to hear all that "Armchair Recliner" 'coaching', at least know that I know that you know that Ron Rivera didn't get the nickname "River Ron" for playing it safe. So, you know that I know that Ron is COY-deserving; so much so that I question this display of caution in the face of Matt Ryan with the last say.

    So; Hooray for you showing some love for Rivera, because he deserves it. But chastising me about my "understanding of how to win close games" when all I did was suggest a "Riverboat Ron"-like peddle to the metal, go for it, approach to the situation is a bit silly.

    Not as silly, though, as the one guy who commented on a Panther's article earlier in the year. I'm not going to search for who it was, but- "fire the cam and rivera".

  • PanthersFan45 Dec 29, 2013

    I thought the game was won in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Great pass protection allowed Cam Newton plenty of time, not to mention the run blocking opened up some nice gains for Deangelo Williams. On the defensive side, the front four of the Panthers pressured Ryan most of the day. The guys wearing the jerseys "60 thru 79" get the game ball from me. Hopefully the week off will allow "smitty" to return.

  • IronRam Dec 29, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Yes if they can stay out of Seattle...but they still have a good chance even then...

  • IronRam Dec 29, 2013

    THE Caronlina Panthers, solid offense, dominating defense, and they will go far ladies and gentlemen...CAM still not quite where he needs to be but he is just 24 years old...we get that frontal lobe developed, look out...the baddest defense in the league, or if you will, the baddest front 7 in the league...any defense that has a guy nicknamed "The Kraken" is bad to the bone (4 sacks and Matty Ice having nightmares about being wrapped up and dragged under)...team leading the league in sacks, and the top tackler in the league...Luc Kuechly for President, "The Kraken" for head of Seal Team 6, Charles Johnson = Luca Brasi of the NFL...he makes offers QBs can't refuse...

    Dear Jerry, don't goof around with "The Kraken"...feed the beasty some major coin...

  • mac240 Dec 29, 2013

    Are the Panthers a SB team?

  • IronRam Dec 29, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Can you detail your NFL coaching experience, obviously the Redskins could use some help and with your understanding of how to win close games you would be COY in maybe just a year or thousand...

  • IronRam Dec 29, 2013

    View quoted thread

    I've sent over orders to revoke your computer priveleges...nice job impersonating someone who thinks they know something about football...

  • vt94hokies Dec 29, 2013

    Super coaching and a great defense. Go Panthers.

  • mittnfriends Dec 29, 2013

    View quoted thread


    Geez- Coaches almost lost the game on that one. Up by 1 against Matt Ryan and they pull that? I hope they don't make that mistake in the playoffs.

    Hey Cam haterssssssshhhhhh!!

More...

 

 

  • CBB: Georgetown at St. John's

    Today at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: UNC at Miami

    Today at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Arkansas at Kentucky

    Today at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NASCAR: Folds of Honor 500 in Atlanta

    Tomorrow at 1:00 pm on FOX50

  • NHL: Hurricanes at NY Islanders

    Tonight at 5:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: NC State at Boston College

    Tonight at 6:00 on WRAL-FM

  • ACC: Syracuse at Duke

    Tonight at 7:00 on 620am

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 3
WAS 0
Final
BOS 106
CHA 98
12:00pm Today
UCF
ECU
 
12:00pm Today
BC
NCSU
 
2:00pm Today
MIAMI
UNC
 
4:00pm Today
NCCU
COOK
 
5:00pm Tonight
NYI
CAR
 
7:00pm Tonight
DUKE
SYR
 
Final
IND 93
CLE 86
Final
PHI 89
WAS 81
Final
BOS 106
CHA 98
Final
TOR 89
GSW 113
Final
DET 115
NYK 121
Final
ATL 95
ORL 88
Final
HOU 102
BRK 98
Final
MEM 79
LAC 97
Final
NOP 104
MIA 102
Final
CHI 96
MIN 89
Final
DEN 82
UTA 104
Final
SAC 96
SAN 107
Final
LAL 101
MIL 93
Final
POR 115
OKC 112
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
DET
 
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
ATL
 
7:30pm Tonight
NYK
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
MEM
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
BRK
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
MIL
 
9:00pm Tonight
PHO
SAN
 
Final
QUIN 73
SIENA 63
 
Final
CORN 57
HARV 49
 
Final
CAN 72
FAIR 65
 
Final
IONA 79
MAN 75
 
Final
BRO 75
PENN 69
 
Final
YALE 81
PRIN 60
 
Final
MAR 69
PETE 67
 
Final
CLMB 71
DART 84
 
Final
AKR 70
OHIO 58
 
Final
CLST 53
VALPO 56
 
11:00am Today
LIP
KNST
 
11:00am Today
GHND
NAVY
 
12:00pm Today
LAF
ARMY
 
12:00pm Today
AMER
BUCK
 
12:00pm Today
UCF
ECU
 
12:00pm Today
STJ
GEOR
 
12:00pm Today
CLEM
GT
 
12:00pm Today
COL
LEH
 
12:00pm Today
FSU
LOU
 
12:00pm Today
MD
MICH
 
12:00pm Today
UGA
MIZZ
 
12:00pm Today
BC
NCSU
 
12:30pm Today
LAS
RIU
 
1:00pm Today
UNH
MAINE
 
1:00pm Today
IUPUI
NEOM
 
1:00pm Today
WINT
PBY
 
1:00pm Today
VMI
SAMF
 
1:00pm Today
CITA
WCU
 
2:00pm Today
DEP
BUT
 
2:00pm Today
LONG
CAMP
 
2:00pm Today
TULA
CIN
 
2:00pm Today
VCU
DAY
 
2:00pm Today
TOWS
DEL
 
2:00pm Today
WMARY
DREX
 
2:00pm Today
JVU
FLGC
 
2:00pm Today
EVAN
ILLST
 
2:00pm Today
BRAD
INDST
 
2:00pm Today
MIAMI
UNC
 
2:00pm Today
WICHS
NIOWA
 
2:00pm Today
UWGB
OU
 
2:00pm Today
LSU
MISS
 
2:00pm Today
OKLA
TCU
 
2:00pm Today
BING
UMBC
 
2:00pm Today
AFA
UTST
 
2:00pm Today
GTDNS
VERM
 
2:00pm Today
XAV
VILL
 
2:00pm Today
MNTER
WAGN
 
2:00pm Today
ILLCH
WRST
 
2:30pm Today
YALE
SARAHLAW
 
3:00pm Today
UAB
MTST
 
3:00pm Today
NDAK
SUTAH
 
3:00pm Today
LIB
UNCA
 
3:05pm Today
CHIST
WLVRN
 
3:30pm Today
UMO
BGU
 
3:30pm Today
SHU
LIU
 
3:30pm Today
APP
LAMON
 
4:00pm Today
VANDY
ALA
 
4:00pm Today
KENT
ARK
 
4:00pm Today
NCCU
COOK
 
4:00pm Today
MRGST
COPST
 
4:00pm Today
SHU
CREI
 
4:00pm Today
BONA
DUQ
 
4:00pm Today
MERC
ETST
 
4:00pm Today
UMASS
FORD
 
4:00pm Today
RAD
GWEBB
 
4:00pm Today
JMU
HOF
 
4:00pm Today
BU
HC
 
4:00pm Today
KYST
ISU
 
4:00pm Today
DELST
MDES
 
4:00pm Today
LOYC
MIZST
 
4:00pm Today
IDAHO
MNTST
 
4:00pm Today
MCNST
NICST
 
4:00pm Today
TTU
OKST
 
4:00pm Today
PORT
SDU
 
4:00pm Today
BRY
Terriers
 
4:00pm Today
RMU
RFLSH
 
4:00pm Today
UVA
VT
 
4:00pm Today
BAY
WVU
 
4:00pm Today
FUR
WOFF
 
4:05pm Today
SILL
DRAK
 
4:30pm Today
FD
CCST
 
4:30pm Today
WMICH
EMICH
 
4:30pm Today
CSOU
HIGH
 
5:00pm Tonight
UNCG
CHAT
 
5:00pm Tonight
SD
SDKST
 
5:00pm Tonight
CARK
SELA
 
5:00pm Tonight
KU
TEX
 
5:05pm Tonight
EWASH
MONT
 
5:15pm Tonight
TROY
UGST
 
5:30pm Tonight
TXST
ARKST
 
5:30pm Tonight
UNT
ODU
 
6:00pm Tonight
CORN
DART
 
6:00pm Tonight
NCAT
FAM
 
6:00pm Tonight
PSU
IOWA
 
6:00pm Tonight
MORE
JVST
 
6:00pm Tonight
PEPP
LMU
 
6:00pm Tonight
SCAR
MSST
 
6:00pm Tonight
BRO
PRIN
 
6:00pm Tonight
NEV
SJST
 
6:00pm Tonight
SCST
SAV
 
6:00pm Tonight
BEL
TENST
 
6:00pm Tonight
UF
TENN
 
6:00pm Tonight
ALAST
TXSOU
 
6:30pm Tonight
SOUTH
ALCOR
 
6:30pm Tonight
JST
MVSU
 
7:00pm Tonight
SEMIZ
PEAY
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOL
BST
 
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
BUF
 
7:00pm Tonight
LBSU
CSFU
 
7:00pm Tonight
MARS
FATL
 
7:00pm Tonight
STLU
GMAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
DAVID
GWU
 
7:00pm Tonight
HOW
HAMP
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLMB
HARV
 
7:00pm Tonight
LAM
INCWORD
 
7:00pm Tonight
YOUNG
UWMIL
 
7:00pm Tonight
TENNM
MURST
 
7:00pm Tonight
ELON
UNCW
 
7:00pm Tonight
ILL
NW
 
7:00pm Tonight
YALE
PENN
 
7:00pm Tonight
ALAAM
PVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
STJOE
RICH
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNF
STET
 
7:00pm Tonight
HART
USB
 
7:00pm Tonight
DUKE
SYR
 
7:00pm Tonight
EKENT
TENT
 
7:00pm Tonight
LATU
TXSA
 
7:00pm Tonight
NKENTUCKY
USCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
WILL
 
7:05pm Tonight
UMKC
GRCN
 
7:15pm Tonight
NO
ABCHRIST
 
8:00pm Tonight
SDST
BSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
NILL
CMICH
 
8:00pm Tonight
RICE
CHAR
 
8:00pm Tonight
ORU
DEN
 
8:00pm Tonight
WKENT
FIU
 
8:00pm Tonight
TXPA
NMST
 
8:00pm Tonight
COC
NE
 
8:00pm Tonight
TAMCC
SHSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
SCU
GAELS
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOUB
STEPH
 
8:00pm Tonight
SMISS
UTEP
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
TULSA
 
8:00pm Tonight
UNLV
WYO
 
8:15pm Tonight
TXARL
ARKLR
 
8:15pm Tonight
LALAF
GSOUT
 
8:30pm Tonight
TEXAM
AUB
 
8:30pm Tonight
ARKPB
GRAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTAH
ARZ
 
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
NARZ
 
10:00pm Tonight
GONZ
BYU
 
10:00pm Tonight
WEBER
IDST
 
10:00pm Tonight
FRES
NMU
 
10:00pm Tonight
USF
PAC
 
10:00pm Tonight
CPSL
UCD
 
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
SACST
 
10:30pm Tonight
SEAT
CALST
 
10:30pm Tonight
CSNO
UCR
 
10:30pm Tonight
USC
WASH
 
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
UCI
 
Final
NJD 2
BOS 3
Final
NYI 2
CAL 1
Final
CAR 3
WAS 0
Final
TAM 4
CHI 0
Final
DAL 4
COL 5
Final
ANA 4
LOS 2
3:00pm Today
FLA
BUF
 
3:00pm Today
NAS
DET
 
5:00pm Tonight
NYI
CAR
 
5:00pm Tonight
CLB
NJD
 
5:30pm Tonight
BOS
ARI
 
7:00pm Tonight
MON
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
PHI
NYR
 
10:00pm Tonight
COL
MIN
 
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
OTT
 
10:00pm Tonight
EDM
STL