The Panthers showed a lot of drive in this game despite a lost season and really dominated a superior Falcons team. They jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and extended it to 23-0 after a 72 yard TD run. The Falcons didn’t score until 5 minutes left in the third quarter. It isn’t shocking to see the offense do so well, but the Panthers defense shut down Atlanta for much of this contest. I spoke about how I thought the Panthers would put this game on Newton’s shoulders, and that was completely the case. He threw 35 times, completing 23 of them for nearly 300 yards. He had two touchdown passes and ran another in as well. He had 116 yards rushing as well which the majority of the 195 the Panthers had as a team. It was a great performance from Newton who has had mostly and up and down season.
The defense bent, but didn’t break for most of the game. It took a while for the Falcons to score, but they did end up putting 20 points up. Playing off receivers later in the game, Matt Ryan was able to rack up 342 yards through the air with 2 scores. He threw an interception as well. The running game was basically non existent for the Falcons. Turner and Rodgers split 11 carries for only 35 yards. of course falling to such an early deficit will force the ball into the quarterback’s hands.
This game won’t resurrect the season for Carolina, but will give them a bit of motivation going forward. Cam Newton clearly has superstar potential, but the weapons around him will have to improve. If you take away Steve Smith’s 100 yard game and the rest of the Panthers skill players were mediocre at best. That is something that will have to be addressed in the offseason, but for now the Panthers should celebrate taking down the Falcons for their second loss of the season.