The Falcons took advantage of a pass interference penalty on Panthers safety Charles Godfrey to take a 7-3 lead on the final play of the first quarter.
On second-and-11, the Panthers sent strong safety Sherrod Martin on a blitz. But he was picked up by Michael Turner, giving Matt Ryan time to throw deep to Roddy White, who was interfered with in the end zone by Godfrey.
On the next snap, Turner bulled in for the 1-yard score to put Atlanta up 7-3.
The Panthers' first series produced a 42-yard field from Olindo Mare. The Panthers converted two third downs on the drive, which consumed 13 plays, nearly seven minutes and covered 64 yards.
Rookie QB Cam Newton, the Atlanta native who went to high school 15 minutes from the Georgia Dome, had the biggest play of the drive. On third-and-6, Newton stepped out of a potential sack and scrambled 12 yards for the first down, drawing a pretty loud cheer from the crowd.
But the drive bogged down in the red zone when Newton misfired on thir...