Falcons 10

(2-6, 0-4 away)

Panthers 34

(5-3, 3-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, November 3, 2013

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC 

1 2 3 4 T
ATL 0 10 0 010
CAR 7 7 3 1734

Top Performers

Passing: C. Newton (CAR) - 249 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: S. Jackson (ATL) - 13 CAR, 57 YDS

Receiving: H. Douglas (ATL) - 3 REC, 82 YDS

Panthers crush division rival Falcons for fourth straight win

Associated Press

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 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.

Game 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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1227
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays4871
Total Yards289373
Yards per play6.05.3
Total Drives1210
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-23-5
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs01

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

carTD6:18Mike Tolbert 4 Yard Run (Graham Gano Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 39 yds, 3:55
atlFG14:13Matt Bryant 28 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 14 plays, 70 yds, 7:04
carTD4:20Greg Olsen 14 Yard Pass From Cam Newton (Graham Gano Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 34 yds, 3:42
atlTD2:00Tony Gonzalez 17 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yds, 2:19
carFG12:04Graham Gano 55 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 43 yds, 3:00
carTD9:05Cam Newton 8 Yard Run (Graham Gano Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 66 yds, 4:29
carTD8:39Drayton Florence 38 Yard Interception Return (Graham Gano Kick is Good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 14 yds, 0:30
carFG1:17Graham Gano 20 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 61 yds, 5:25

Research Notes

The Falcons had four turnovers on Sunday for the second straight week. Atlanta has had eight turnovers over the last two weeks (6.3 percent of snaps) after committing seven turnovers in their first seven games (1.9 percent of snaps). The Falcons committed five penalties to award the Panthers a first down on Sunday. Atlanta is the only team to concede five first downs via penalty in multiple games this season (Week 7 vs Buccaneers). Matt Ryan threw three interceptions, including two picks as a result of off-target throws (over or underthrown). Ryan is the third quarterback this season to throw multiple off-target interceptions in multiple games, joining Eli Manning and Geno Smith.
Cam Newton: 18th career game with Pass TD and Rush TD, the most by a QB in his 1st 3 seasons in Super Bowl era. Since Newton entered the NFL in 2011, no other player has more than 6 games with Rush TD and Pass TD.
Cam Newton posted a 70.5 Total QBR Sunday, his 4th straight game with a Total QBR exceeding 70 (65 to 70 for a season is Pro Bowl-caliber). Newton has an 83.5 Total QBR since the start of Week 6, the 2nd-best in the NFL behind Colin Kaepernick (94.1).
The Panthers won despite Cam Newton completing 1-of-9 passes at least 15 yards downfield for 21 yards and two interceptions, his first game this season with multiple deep interceptions.
Cam Newton recorded his 16th career game with 200 Pass yds, Pass TD, and Rush TD today vs Falcons, 4th-most in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

ESPN Stats & Information