CHARLOTTE, NC Forgive Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers if they celebrate into the wee hours of the morning. They needed this.
In the midst of a disturbing season and coming off a troubling loss at Kansas City last weekend, Carolina responded by routing the team tied for the NFL's best record.
The 30-20 victory Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons had a caravan of storylines: The offensive line gave Newton plenty of time most of the afternoon; though missing some key players, the defense played as well as it has against a really good team all year; and the team came out ready to play, owning the first half like it was a birthright.
And when the Falcons (11-2) made a second-half push, and Carolina fans were tweeting their fears of the seemingly impending death by a thousand cuts, the Panthers (4-9) regrouped and made the plays to seal the deal, culminating with DeAngelo Williams' 53-yard catch-and-mostly-run for a touchdown with 4:11 remaining.
While this win was about ...