Steve Smith seals off two Falcons defenders allowing Cam Newton to score.
A little over two months ago the Panthers watched their lead and a likely win over the Falcons slip away like pixie dust in a tsunami. According to Carolina head coach Ron Rivera, the young signal caller took it personally. "Atlanta is a big game for him (Cam Newton) because Atlanta's his hometown team and he wants to play well," said Rivera following the Panthers 30-20 win over the Falcons at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The win was Newton's first ever over his hometown team. Despite the stoic look during the post-game press conference, this win was special. "Me being from Atlanta it means so much," said Newton. "I get hounded so much when I get in Atlanta by family members, friends, and just being out. This game allows me to have a little chip on my shoulder going back home."
After running for over 100 yards and passing for close to 300, the chip may be considerably weightier than Newton is letting on.
It was a true team effort as eight different offensive players touched the ball on the opening drive. Tight end Greg Olsen kicked off and capped the drive catching a 4 yard pass and a 25 yard touchdown pass.
Atlanta failed to answer 4 more of the Panthers scores giving the home squad a respectable 16 point lead going into halftime.
The lead could have been larger had the Panthers turned two or three of those field goal producing drives into touchdowns. "I think we left about 21 points on the board," said veteran receiver Steve Smith.
Atlanta finally woke up after Carolina punched in their sixth score of the day, a beastly 72 yard jaunt by Newton. Operating primarily out of the shotgun formation, Ryan and company moved the ball 83 yards on 13 plays. It was only fitting that Roddy White- who scored the Falcons first touchdown in the September game-scores the first touchdown for the Dirty Birds in the rematch.
The Falcons offense opened the scoring in the final quarter. Julio Jones turned the short pass from Ryan into an 11 yard touchdown. Atlanta was unsuccessful on the two-point conversion pass to Roddy White. White seemingly made the catch in front of cornerback James Dockery but an official's review of the play ruled the Falcons receiver never had possession of the ball before stepping out of bounds.
In the driver's seat once again Carolina refused to take their foot off the gas as the Falcons made their charge. Trailing by 10 points with 9 minutes remaining on the clock, the Falcons launched a threatening drive. Where the Panthers faltered in game one, they succeeded today. "We have to be mature in those situations and know that we've been in this situation too many times this year and let the ball drop. Greg Hardy backed up his pre-game talk by sacking Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for a loss of 7 yards. Two plays later linebacker Thomas Davis ended the threat diving and intercepting a Ryan pass intended for White.
Davis' play energized the offense which needed just 4 plays to capitalize on the turnover. A safe screen pass to DeAngelo Williams on 2 nd and 9 turned into a 53 yard touchdown romp.
Michael Turner ended the days scoring busting in from 1 yard out to cap the Falcons final possession of the game.
Safety Haruki Nakamura who was victimized by the Hail Mary pass in the first game but left this game early to receive medical treatment for an unspecified injury was satisfied with the outcome. "With what happened in the last game there couldn't have been a better way to do it," said Nakamura.
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