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CORE 360, Issue 18 Find out more on MagCloud)

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Panthers Claim Division With Ugly Win

Falcons comeback falls short of Panthers 21-20.


Cam Newton threw for two touchdowns and rushed for 72 yards to lead the Carolina Panthers to their first season sweep of the Atlanta Falcons since 2005 with a 21-20 win.

“It wasn’t pretty,” said Newton of the game. Twenty-two minutes into the game Carolina trailed their division rivals 10-0. On their second drive of the second quarter DeAngelo Williams nearly changed it taking the flare pass from Newton 56 yards downfield. Williams may have scored but rookie defensive back Robert Alford stripped the unsuspecting back at the Atlanta 18 yard line. The Falcons other rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant recovered the advancing ball at the 4 yard line.

As fate would have it Williams’ fumble led to the Panthers first score courtesy of Matt Ryan. On second and 12, Ryan threw left towards Harry Douglas only to find Melvin White in his place. After making the interception, the rookie cornerback stumbled and fell to the ground. Rather than wasting time trying to get to his feet, White simply crawled across the goal line for the touchdown.

The pick couldn’t have come at a better time. “They were playing with a lot of emotion as I said earlier and we had to match their emotion somehow, had to have a play and Melvin White made a great play for us,” said Carolina Head Coach Ron Rivera.

Carolina added another touchdown on a three yard pass from Newton to Ted Ginn, Jr. to close out the half ahead 14-10.

During halftime, the fans, the team, and the NFL honored the 17 year career of Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez. Team owner Arthur Blank presented Gonzalez with a half Kansas City Chief-half Atlanta Falcons helmet signed by League Commissioner Roger Goodell.

After the halftime ceremonies were complete, the Falcons road the emotion down the field to take the lead on their first offensive series of the second half. The offensive line finally gave Ryan enough time to stay upright- 4 sacks in the first half- and the six-year pro made the Panthers secondary pay. Ryan threw a perfect pass to Roddy White for a 39 yard touchdown and a 17-14 lead.

Atlanta’s lead lasted all of five minutes. Aided by an unnecessary roughness penalty, Carolina moved steadily down the field. Upon reaching the last third of the field, Williams popped another big run. This time Williams held on to the ball when Alford swooped in to make the tackle at the 8. Three plays later Newton threw a dart into the belly of tight end Greg Olsen.

The Panthers watched their lead shrink from four to one on a 37 yard field goal by Matt Bryant.

Unable to move the ball beyond one first down, Carolina returned the ball to Ryan and the Falcons with over three minutes remaining. Normally three minutes would have been plenty of time for the Falcons to run out the clock and kick a game winning field goal.

The Panthers defense would have nothing of the sort. Through 80 percent of the game Ryan had paid the painful price of playing quarterback in the NFL. Greg Hardy and company had already sacked Ryan 7 times. In what could have been a game winning drive, the Panthers sacked him twice more to force a three-and-out to end the drive.

All hope wasn’t lost as the Falcons defense stood tall shutting down the Panthers and giving the ball back to their offense with almost a minute and a half remaining and at least 50 yards from field goal range.

A pair of passes to both White and Douglas and Ryan once again had the Falcons close to a game winning opportunity. With 31 seconds remaining and still about 15-20 yards shy of field goal range, the last wheel fell off the Falcons wobbly cart. As Ryan called out potential blitz-ers, center Joe Hawley snapped the ball to the spot where his quarterback had just left from. Running back Jason Snelling recovered the fumble but the damage was done.




Carolina Panthers 21 - Atlanta Falcons 20
Slideshow

Photos - Jake McDonald, CORE 360 Magazine
  • Cam Newton greets DT Star Lotulelei onto the field for pre-game warm up activities.

  • Tony Gonzalez enters the stadium for the last time as a Falcons player.

  • Carolina is announced during stadium introductions.

  • Cam Newton takes a break from pre-game activities to dap up a group of young fans.

  • The Falcons Cheerleaders entertain fans before kick-off.

  • Tony Gonzalez enters the stadium for the last time as a Falcons player.

  • Carolina sack leader Greg Hardy shows off the guns during team introductions.

  • The Falcons Cheerleaders whip their hair back and forth during a dance routing before kick-off.<

  • Cam Newton acknowledges the Panthers fans in attendance.

  • The Falcons Cheerleaders entertain fans before kick-off.<

  • Steven Jackson goes airborn in an attempt to avoid a tackler.

  • Panthers DB Melvin White dives and misses as Falcons WR Harry Douglas turns up-field after catching the pass from Matt Ryan.

  • Panthers DB Mike Mitchell tackles Falcons WR along the Carolina sideline.

  • Falcons RB Steven Jackson runs through the initial hit from cornerback CAptain Munnerlyn.

  • Matt Ryan is sacked by Panthers DE Frank Alexander for a 2 yards loss.

  • The Falcons Cheerleaders whip their hair back and forth during a dance routing before kick-off

  • Cam Newton runs away from the pressure as Falcons MLB Paul Worrilow runs through the block of DeAngelo Williams.

  • Falcons MLB Paul Worrilow delivers the hit to Panthers QB Cam Newton forcing an incomplete pass.

  • The Falcons Cheerleaders kick to the sky during a break in the action.

  • Panthers DT looks over his handiwork after sacking Falcons QB Matt Ryan.

  • Panthers QB Cam Newton escapes the pressure picking up 16 yards and a first down.

  • Falcons CB Desmond Trufant makes a diving tackle to hold Panthers QB Cam Newton to a 16 yard gain.

  • DeAngelo Williams runs behind offensive lineman Ryan Kalil for a 3 yard gain.

  • DeAngelo Williams is tripped up from behind by DE Jonathan Massaquoi after a 3 yard gain.

  • Falcons WR Roddy White is wrestled to the ground by Panthers CB Captain Munnerlyn.

  • Falcons RB Steven Jackson bounces off the hit from Panthers safety Quintin Mikell and LB Luke Kuechly.

  • Panthers DB Drayton Florence delivers a jarring hit to Falcons RB Steven Jackson knocking the ball away.

  • Falcons DE Jonathan Massaquoi chases after Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams.

  • Panthers CB Melvin White crawls and dives across the goal line for a pick 6.

  • Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez locks down on the pass from Matt Ryan.

  • Falcons RB Jason Snelling fights for more yardage and for possession of the ball as Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly comes in to make the tackle.

  • Panthers FB Mike Tolbert attempts to spin out of the grasp of Falcons MLB Paul Worrilow.

  • The Falcons cheerleaders perform during a break in the action.

  • Cam Newton is pursued by Falcons DT Jonathan Babineaux after being flushed from the pocket.

  • Cam Newton steps out of the grasp of Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud.

  • Panthers TE Greg Olsen turns up field with Falcons MLB Paul Worrilow staring him down.

  • Falcons safety William Moore goes airborne after absorbing the hit from Panthers FB Mike Tolbert.

  • Panthers FB Mike Tolbert is gang tackled by the Falcons defense after picking up 8 yards on the pass from Newton.

  • Panthers WR Ted Ginn, Jr. makes a leaping grab for a touchdown on a pass from Cam Newton.

  • Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez is honored at halftime and presented with a token of the NFL's appreciation from team owner Arthur Blank.

  • Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez is honored at halftime and presented with a token of the NFL's appreciation from team owner Arthur Blank.

  • Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez is honored at halftime and presented with a token of the NFL's appreciation from team owner Arthur Blank.

  • Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez is honored at halftime and presented with a token of the NFL's appreciation from team owner Arthur Blank.

  • Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez gets a smooch from his wife after the halftime ceremony much to the embarrasment of his eldest son.

  • Panthers RB Mike Tolbert grimaces in the grasp of Falcons DT Travian Robertson.

  • Falcons RB Steven Jackson takes the pass and turns up field for a 25 yard gain.

  • Falcons WR Harry Douglas snags the pass from Matt Ryan for a 15 yard gain and a first down.

  • Falcons WR Roddy White looks in the deep pass from Matt Ryan beating safety Quintin Mikell for a 39 yard TD.

  • Falcons WR Roddy White flicks the ball over the crossbar in a gesture of honor of teammate Tony Gonzalez's trademark dunk after a TD.

  • A portion of the Falcons Cheerleaders pose for a picture during a break in the action.

  • Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams breaks free for a 24 yard gain.

  • Falcons LB Joplo Bartu wrestles Greg Olsen to the ground after the Panthers TE hauls in the 7 yard pass from Cam Newton for the game winning touchdown.

  • Matt Ryan is sacked by Panthers DE Greg Hardy. Hardy sacked Ryan 4 times to break the team record.

  • Cam Newton pushes off to avoid the sack by Falcons DE Cliff Mathews.

  • Panthers DT Star Lotulelei and LB Thomas Davis combine to stop Falcons RB Steven Jackson.

  • Safety Mike Mitchell delivers a jarring hit on Roddy White to know the ball out of the receivers hands for an incomplete pass.

  • A host of Falcons defenders converge on Panthers RB Mike Tolbert

  • Falcons center Joe Hawley snaps the ball past Matt Ryan in a mixup of signals.

  • Falcons QB Matt Ryan walks off the field after the final drive ends in confusion and a missed opportunity.

  • Cam Newton is all smiles as he races towards the Carolina fans gathered in the stands behind the endzone.

  • Cam Newton is all smiles as he races towards the Carolina fans gathered in the stands behind the endzone.




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