Charlotte, NC, United States (4E Sports) – Cam Newton threw two touchdown heaves and rushed for another to lead the Carolina Panthers to a 30-20 upset victory over the NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.
Newton completed 23 of 35 passes for 287 yards and became the first Panther quarterback to rush for 100 yards after posting a career-high 116 yards on nine carries, including a 72-yard touchdown run.
Linebacker Thomas Davis helped secure the Panthers’ fourth win in 13 games when he picked off Matt Ryan’s pass with 6:19 remaining in the final quarter to end a Falcons’ drive in Carolina’s territory.
Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith caught seven passes for 109 yards while running back DeAngelo Williams and tight end Greg Olsen were at the receiving end of Newton’s two scoring heaves.
Williams tallied 56 yards on 17 carries and added 56 receiving yards on two catches while Olsen had 55 yards on four receptions for the Panthers.
Ryan hit 34 of 49 passes for 342 yards and matched Newton’s output with two touchdown passes to wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones but had an interception that ended the Falcons’ comeback try.
White had 117 yards on nine catches and Jones added 66 yards on five receptions for the Falcons, who suffered their second loss in 13 outings and saw their five-game winning streak over the Panthers come to an end.
The Panthers held the Falcons to just 35 total yards in the first half en route to a 16-0 lead at the break.
Carolina extended its advantage to 23-0 behind Newton’s 72-yard touchdown run before Atlanta finally got on the board with Ryan’s four-yard touchdown pass to White.
Ryan connected with Jones for an 11-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 23-13 but Newton answered with a 53-yard scoring pass to Williams for a 17-point cushion.