Falcons dominated by rival Panthers 30-20

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 09, 2012
It's one loss. And in the eyes of the Atlanta Falcons, it's certainly not time to panic. Their 30-20 defeat Sunday came at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, a team that had won just three games. And granted, the Falcons were dominated for 2 1/2 quarters, falling behind 23-0 at one point. But players insist it won't take long to put the loss to their Interstate-85 rivals behind them and shift their focus to the postseason. ''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,'' Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. Ryan and others did express concern over yet another slow start offensively. At halftime, the Falcons trailed 16-0 and had only 35 total yards and two first downs. ''That wasn't our best effort, I can tell you that much, especially on the offensive side of the ball,'' Falcons receiver Roddy White said. ''We put our offense in a big hole in the first half. We didn't convert on third downs. We didn't do much of anything. ''The last couple of weeks, we've not been starting out the way we should on offense, and waiting around. Today, we waited around too long. We let one get away from us. These are the games we're supposed to win, and needed to win.'' The Panthers clearly played with more emotion. Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy promised ''payback'' and ''punishment'' for the Atlanta Falcons last week, and he and his Panthers teammates delivered on Sunday. Despite playing without four starters and having 13 players on injured reserve, the Panthers dominated the NFC South champions as Cam Newton threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns and scored on a 72-yard run. Newton piled up a career-high 116 yards on the ground and the Panthers racked up 475 total yards to avenge an early season loss with a dominating performance against their Interstate-85 rivals. Carolina's defense was superb through 2 1/2 quarters building a 23-0 lead and holding a 356-86 edge in total yards to snap a five-game losing streak against the Falcons. Carolina (4-9) came in with little to play for except to gain a measure of revenge on Ryan, whom they felt disrespected them after Atlanta's 30-28 come-from-behind win earlier this season at the Georgia Dome. Hardy was upset when television cameras caught Ryan cursing at the Panthers sideline telling them to get off their field in the Sept. 30 game. Hardy responded by saying last week the Panthers were a ''better team'' than the Falcons while 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. After the game, 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 and one interception. ''They were better than us today, that's for sure.'' It was all Carolina from the start. 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 one overtime game, the Panthers had lost 13 straight coin flips this season. Carolina quickly took advantage, taking the opening kickoff and going 77 yards in 11 plays with Greg Olsen making a leaping grab from Newton 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 of the first half sailed through the uprights as time expired, the Panthers led 16-0 and had run 45 plays to Atlanta's 13 and outgained the Falcons 270-35. Led by Newton, who had some big runs on third-and-long, including a highlight-reel 14-yard scamper on third-and-11, the Panthers had 15 first downs to Atlanta's two. 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 on a zone read option and raced 72 yards for a touchdown, getting an assist from receiver Steve Smith along the way. Smith took out two would-be tacklers with a big block around the 20 before Newton somersaulted into the end zone for a 23-0 lead early in the third quarter. Atlanta came back, with Ryan converting a fourth-and-4 with a 4-yard shovel pass to Jason Snelling, setting up a short TD pass to White. The Falcons came right back with Ryan hitting Julio Jones for an 11-yard scoring toss to cut the lead to 24-13. Atlanta's 2-point conversion toss to White was ruled incomplete as officials said he bobbled the ball going out of bounds. Atlanta got the ball back early in the fourth quarter and moved to midfield, but Ryan was flushed out of the pocket on fourth-and-7 and was intercepted by linebacker Thomas Davis with 6:19 remaining. The Panthers, who've surrendered four fourth-quarter leads this season, put the game away on the next drive. The Panthers capitalized on a defensive holding call by Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson on third-and-10 on their next possession as Williams caught a screen pass from Newton and raced 53 yards for a touchdown and a 30-13 lead. NOTES: The Panthers played without starters wide receiver Brandon LaFell, running back Jonathan Stewart, linebacker James Anderson and safety Charles Godfrey. ... Panthers coach Ron 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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Watson warns teams against picking Mitchell over him

Bonds to have street named after him in San Francisco

Report: Blount, Giants have 'mutual interest'

Adrian Peterson confirms he will sign with Saints

The Warriors just trucked the Blazers with 8 threes, 45 points in the first quarter

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Serena Williams fires back at Ilie Nastase’s racist comment about her child

Magic Johnson will represent the Lakers at NBA Draft Lottery

Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes suspended, fined for throwing at Manny Machado

Jerry Jones happy Tony Romo isn’t playing for another NFL team

George told teammates he has dreamed of playing for Lakers?

Westbrook takes shot at Rockets for laughing at Roberson

NBA Weekend Awards: Who takes home the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy?

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Where it went wrong: Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 exits

20 of the best NFL Draft red carpet looks

Getaway Day: Wild, wacky and weird week in MLB (and that's just the injuries)

11 names you need to know for the NFL Draft

Most inspirational sports movies, series and docs available for streaming

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: David Fizdale and the Grizzlies won't go down quietly

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA Weekend Awards: Who takes home the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy?

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Where it went wrong: Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 exits

Getaway Day: Wild, wacky and weird week in MLB

11 names you need to know for the NFL Draft

Most inspirational sports movies, series and docs available for streaming

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker