Panthers hold on to defeat Falcons, 30-20





CHARLOTTE – Splat!

That was the sound of the NFC South champion Falcons falling flat on their faces against the last-place Carolina Panthers Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

The Panthers, behind a strong showing from quarterback Cam Newton, defeated the Falcons 30-20 and slowed down Atlanta’s march to claiming the NFC’s top seed.

The Panthers jumped out to a 23-0 early third quarter lead and held on to improve to 4-9, while the Falcons slipped to 11-2.

“They were much better than us today,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “They beat us in all three phases. We couldn’t sustain drives on third down offensively. We couldn’t even come close to getting them off the field on third downs (defensively).”

The Falcons needed a win and bizarre trifecta of other losses to claim the top seed for the playoffs, which comes with a bye and home-field advantage throughout.

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) throws a pass as Atlanta Falcons' Sean Weatherspoon (56) defends during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) throws a pass as Atlanta Falcons' Sean Weatherspoon (56) defends during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

The Falcons are still ahead of San Francisco (9-3-1) and Green Bay (8-4, before playing Detroit on Sunday night). They have a 1 ½ lead over the 49ers with three games to play.

The Falcons want to put this stinker of game behind them quickly.

“It better be a bump in the road if we are the team we think we are,” tight end Tony Gonzalez said.

In recent years, the hottest team in December has gone on to enjoy post-season success.

The Falcons have been eliminated in their first game of the playoffs in three of the past four season.

They wanted to start the fourth-quarter of the regular-season by building some momentum into the playoffs.

With the New York Giants up next, they could end up stumbling into the playoffs.

“I can hear them right now,” Gonzalez said. “They are getting off the band wagon. They are jumping off.

“From looking at our history, a lot of people are going to say, ‘see I told you.’ But we are a good football team. There is no doubt about it. We are going to play better. …We are going to be back to playing the way we have been playing.”

Newton, of Fulton County’s Westlake High and Auburn, completed 23 of 35 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. He had a passer rating of 110.1. Newton also rushed nine times for 116 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown.

“You’ve got to take your hat off to him,” Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. “It was his day.”

There was a lot of talk before the game from the Panthers.

They said they were disrespected by Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who was seen on Fox television cameras telling the Panthers to “get the (bleep) off our field” after the Falcons pulled out a 30-28 win on Sept. 30 at the Georgia Dome.

Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy also said the Panthers were better than the Falcons. The Falcons seemed amused by all of the chatter.

“They’ve been fired up all week,” Gonzalez said. “We heard it all week and they came out and got after us.”

Carolina jumped out to a 16-0 halftime lead.

Here last season, the Falcons were down by 16 at the half, but rallied to win.

Not this time.

Newton broke loose on a read-option run and scampered 72 yards. Graham Gano’s extra point made it 23-0 with 11:01 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons came back with two touchdowns, but after Roddy White’s two-point conversion catch was ruled incomplete, the rally died.

The Panthers answered when DeAngelo Williams scored from 53 yards out on a screen pass to make it 30-13 with 4:11 to play

The Falcons added a 1-yard touchdown run by Michael Turner for the final 30-20 margin.

“I like the way we responded in the second half if you’re looking for the silver lining,” Gonzalez said.

The Falcons had not played since beating New Orleans 23-13 on Nov. 29.

“I’m a little disappointed with the way we came out,” Gonzalez said. “There is no excuse for that.”

Smith felt the team had a good week of practice and made no excuses for them coming out flat against a feisty Carolina squad.

“They played well and we didn’t play up to our standard,” Smith said.

LATEST NEWS

Cornerback Asante Samuel, safety William Moore are questionable for Panthers

Falcons at Panthers: 3 key matchups

Q&A with Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who’s closing in on his first 1,000-yard season

Falcons amused by tough talk from Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter not worried about dip in Matt Ryan’s numbers

OTHER RECENT NEWS

Falcons avenge their only loss to improve to 11-1

Turner becomes franchise’s all-time leading touchdown leader

Falcons quoteboard: What they were saying after the game

Defense ends Drew Brees streak of 54 games with a touchdown pass

Video: Ledbetter discusses 23-13 win over the Saints

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

186 comments Add your comment

FanSinceBart

December 9th, 2012
4:04 pm

Congratulations on your Super Bowl win today. You called us out and we weren’t up to the task. We will now get off your field.

Esquire

December 9th, 2012
4:05 pm

5-6-7-8
Everywhere we goooO,
Everywhere we goooO,
People wanna knooOw,
People wanna knooOw,
Who we aaa are,
Who we aaa are,
So we tell theem, So we tell theem,
We are the FALCONS!! We are the FALCONS!!
MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS, MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS !!
OHH AHH OHH YEEAHH

Esquire

December 9th, 2012
4:06 pm

Just a bump in the road. We’ll be alright.

5-6-7-8
Everywhere we goooO,
Everywhere we goooO,
People wanna knooOw,
People wanna knooOw,
Who we aaa are,
Who we aaa are,
So we tell theem, So we tell theem,
We are the FALCONS!! We are the FALCONS!!
MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS, MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS !!
OHH AHH OHH YEEAHH

Esquire

December 9th, 2012
4:07 pm

WE ARE THE MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS!!!

Where is everybody??? I need some of Mike’s Cox just about now!!!

George

December 9th, 2012
4:13 pm

Falcons – 11-2
Carolina – 4-9
Play Off – First Round OUT.

Corey

December 9th, 2012
4:16 pm

I’m tired of stupid Dirk Diggler’s play calling! Why weren’t we doing the no-huddle offense earlier???? I’m tired of these stupid check-downs. We have Julio and Roddy for crying out loud. Grow some balls Ryan!!!

KJ

December 9th, 2012
4:16 pm

Falcons didn’t show up to play today until the second half. It was too late. Falcons get sCAMmed for the first time. Falcons need to play like they haven’t won anything yet, because they haven’t. The division means nothing. Need playoff wins!

robert

December 9th, 2012
4:17 pm

that defense was shredded. running throwing whatever. the falcons dont need to run their mouths and talk trash. they cant back it up. they couldnt stop ga tech.

Joseph A. Bank

December 9th, 2012
4:17 pm

I have no idea why the national media insults the Falcons. Maybe we can get another 5 interceptions next week. Oh yea, don’t forget my 100% off sale..

Noodle Arm

December 9th, 2012
4:19 pm

Hey guys. I’ve missed you. I’ve decided to come back.

Go Tech

December 9th, 2012
4:19 pm

Just blame the loss on the refs. That’s what dog fans do.

Raphael Hardnett

December 9th, 2012
4:19 pm

Michael Turner is a 2 string running back. Jaquizz needs to be the starter.

Blaming the Refs

December 9th, 2012
4:23 pm

They cost us the damn game. We would’ve whipped those clowns. THAT GAME WAS RIGGED!!!!!

ES

December 9th, 2012
4:24 pm

Enter your comments here

Kim Parker

December 9th, 2012
4:24 pm

What’s the difference between a dirty bathtub and the dirty birds? One has a ring.

ES

December 9th, 2012
4:24 pm

Calm down guys. We are 11-2!

Poppy

December 9th, 2012
4:25 pm

SOOOOOO embarrassing. ATL Coaches,,,,you fracked up big time!!! And you wonder why the announcers and sport channels are not on board!! I have been here since 1983 and have seen the ……for lack of words…. again,,,embarrassing years!! Oh, I forgot we were 11-1 prior to this game,,,and my point is,,,,,,what a joke!! We should have cleaned their clock!!!! Mr. Blank, you have a tough decision.

Sam

December 9th, 2012
4:27 pm

This game was totally on Matt Ryan and the oc. Embarrassed by the panthers. One and done in the playoffs

Mr.Reality

December 9th, 2012
4:28 pm

How easy to be taken apart. This is the way the first playoff game will be. BTW – MS: 4th and one NO, 4th and 8 YES! Arthur:Time to start looking, and interviewing!!

Sam

December 9th, 2012
4:28 pm

Cut dunta Robinson and start McClain and owned. DR is a joke

Falcons stunk today.....

December 9th, 2012
4:30 pm

Guess the Panthers were right – they were better in every way today – whipped the sorry Falcons butts……Rise up, Yeah Right – what the Falcons did today was LAY DOWN and let the Panthers have their way with them.

The Reader

December 9th, 2012
4:31 pm

We have had enough of luck. Now come the embarassments. I agree with George. Playoffs: One, and out. Bad luck time is coming!

Falcons Fan

December 9th, 2012
4:33 pm

What’s up with the conservative game plan? we have all these weapons and all we can is throw screen passes.

Strange Murphy

December 9th, 2012
4:33 pm

One and done in the playoffs again! Atlanta, city of losers!

DM

December 9th, 2012
4:34 pm

WORST PERFORMANCE of the year! Play calling was terrible, coaching was at its worst!
Turner was a joke. I don’t understand down 10 points with less than 7 mins left and you run the ball up the middle for 2 yards then get sacked. This team is overated.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

Cpt Kirk in Arkansas

December 9th, 2012
4:36 pm

I fell asleep during the first half..no big deal as the Birds were also sleepin..I mean 3 possessions all half and the defense had ZERO pass rush.. Cam or a high schooler couldve picked apart the secondary with such a pitful D Line performance.. When I awoke, ther ewas Ryan, either pressured or runnin for his life.. I thought we had drafted some O linemen… Guess they were MIA//Baker gets worse everfy game Vs mediocre D linemen.. He needs to be replaced and what happened to ballhawk Wm Moore on that 1st Carolina TD to their tight end..forgort his name as hes not even among the elite Tight ends

Overall a Misaeable efoort, as if they’re playin out the string and hopin for home field and another playoff gift, like the 2004 victory over a poor Rams team..

If this game is indicative of a team peaking at playoff time, the the Panthers are ready for the post season

Evidently, the Falcons are NOT BIG CHANGES REQUIRED otherwise one n done again

MARK MY WORDS

CK

LOL@The Pigeons

December 9th, 2012
4:37 pm

@Kim Parker that was a good one. I got one to. What does a falcon do after winning the Super Bowl??? Turn his X Box off and go to sleep!!!!LMAO The Super Bowl!!! The Super Bowl!!!

X-Ryan

December 9th, 2012
4:37 pm

With a good QB, given all the weapons the Falcos have, they should’ve won every game they’ve played this year by no less than 10 points. There are way too many weapons on Atlanta’s team for them to perform like they did today and the blame is 99% due to Ryan. it must be frustrating for Julio Jones and Roddy White to play for a guy like Ryan. i can see it in their eyes and facial expression every game. they just cant express it publicly. Ryan has passed his prime. His prime was the first game of his NFL career. His performance has been declining since.

Some people might want to blame the defense but I thought the defense played well with the offense (Matt Ryan) forcing them to play 25 of 30 minutes in the first half.

Charles Davis

December 9th, 2012
4:37 pm

Did you see how awesome Cam looked in his game pants today. When I met with him yesterday in my hotel room, I mean the locker room, he was just so impressive. He is just so amazing, oh my god!

JipWiz

December 9th, 2012
4:38 pm

No excuses, bad game. Now, here is the reality, we got out-worked, out-played…All 4 phases!
But, here is the inside story-this game DID NOT matter. The Falcons didn’t show, trap game? Maybe, but this was more of a psychological no-show. The problem lies in next week, if we get smacked, then we are done… If we show and play Falcons football, Carolina is just a hiccup…Earn your paycheck next week birds, Vacation is over!

NEPA Falcon Fan

December 9th, 2012
4:38 pm

Well, I expected this… Does anyone else get the sense that the horses are being pulled back? You don’t reveal your playbook to a team going nowhere (sorry, Carry-On-Lina)… There is no grudge match worthy of losing the first-round bye (which will come) or division game (we own it) worth giving it to the first team we play in game one Divisionals in Atlanta… This is just another sign that rankings (this is not the BCS) or stats (no team wins awards for the higher records – just ask the 16-0 Pats)… The post season is all and they will be ready….

Man...

December 9th, 2012
4:39 pm

Playcalling was sloozy, as was the team in the first half. Don’t care what Smith says, they didn’t want that game today. Saw the cushion they had and went flat.

Ryan checks down way too much.

Esquire

December 9th, 2012
4:40 pm

5-6-7-8
Everywhere we goooO,
Everywhere we goooO,
People wanna knooOw,
People wanna knooOw,
Who we aaa are,
Who we aaa are,
So we tell theem, So we tell theem,
We are the FALCONS!! We are the FALCONS!!
MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS, MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS !!
OHH AHH OHH YEEAHH

Calm down people. We’ll get it corrected. Anyone up for drinks???

oh yeah….WE ARE THE MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS…….Someone? Please??

JipWiz

December 9th, 2012
4:40 pm

Btw, Ryan needs protection, he can’t throw to the big guns without time. Look at sCam, he had all day!

johnny jones

December 9th, 2012
4:41 pm

this was a pretty good preview of the falcons first playoff game. Anemic offense, a defense that didn’t even show up for the game. I expect a loss by at least twenty points on that Sundayl.

Dum-Bass

December 9th, 2012
4:42 pm

All those still on the Falcons bandwagon are setting yourselves up for another major letdown and disappointment. I was with you on the Braves wagon and the DAWGS wagon but never jumped on the Falcon’s. You may want to jump off now to save yourself some grief. However if you are into misery and a glutton for punishment just stay on it. No way does this Falcons team get any further than one game into the playoffs. It’s called the “Atlanta Syndrome” or the “ATLJINX”. Twice is bad enough, three times is too much. Some of you just can’t face reality and love to wallow in misery!

Brandon W

December 9th, 2012
4:42 pm

i do not understand this gutless team…all you have to do is win a game against one of the worst teams in the league…held scoreless in the first half…this whole season may be a waste… who knows if we can win any of the next 3 games

1990_Champs_GT

December 9th, 2012
4:43 pm

Terrible game against a terrible team. It had to catch up to them sooner or later.

Nobody on the team cheered when they clinched the playoffs and division, according to Roddy. Nobody cheering today either.

Lose to the Giants next week and there might be more than a few boos…

Pogo

December 9th, 2012
4:44 pm

The Falcons stink. They could have at least saved us the misery early on and lost like the losers they are. New stadium indeed.

NEPA Falcon Fan

December 9th, 2012
4:44 pm

Esquire… I am already with one… Several down and more to go!!! Screw the game… This game’s tape will mean nothing to the fools who try to find something in it… Corrections are a-coming!!!

Mike Mularkey

December 9th, 2012
4:45 pm

HAHAHAHAHA…..and you idiots blamed me all last year……..HAHAHAHAHAHAHA……..I did my best with your noodle arm that you call for a QB.

Ted

December 9th, 2012
4:45 pm

The only ones who try to talk up the Falcants every year are sportswriters in Atlanta and Falcants fans. The Falcants are not nearly as good as their record would indicate. No one with knowledge of the NFL takes them seriously or considers them a playoff threat.

Poppy

December 9th, 2012
4:46 pm

I agree 100% Sam, get rid of Dunta!! The Falcons wasted all that money on him!!! Oh, on free agents,,,Turner is a bust,,, furthermore A. Peterson would not gain 10 yards with our offensive line…my point is….we need a new left tackle because Baker is is a BUST!! But I digress, as I stated earlier, this was all about home field advantage and we could not beat the lowly Panthers!! All we had to do was go 2-2 the last 4 games and boom, home field advantage but the way it looks now is the Falcons have put added pressure on themselves because who do we have to play,,,,Giants here,,,Lions there,,,and I have not mentioned Tampa is here!!! Geez, I am so jacked up about the Falcons losing today……………………..

1990_Champs_GT

December 9th, 2012
4:46 pm

Didn’t watch CBS post game. Did Cowher praise the Birds or condemn Smitty?

I wonder if his windbreaker will be red or black.

Beefy McStick

December 9th, 2012
4:47 pm

Falcons will be the first #1 seed that is an underdog in the semifinals.

X-Ryan

December 9th, 2012
4:47 pm

The Falcons will make it past the first round of playoff this year! If they get a bye that is. LOL…. I can’t believe they’re still paying Matt Ryan to ruin our Super Bowl dreams year in and year out!!!!!

Scott Case's leggs

December 9th, 2012
4:48 pm

I am not going to panic, but I am concerned about our offense….Turner and Quiz had a great first series last game, but after that, we have not created enough holes for them. I think more no-huddle is the key.

1990_Champs_GT

December 9th, 2012
4:48 pm

Wild one at NY BTW

1990_Champs_GT

December 9th, 2012
4:51 pm

Defense isn’t great, but kept them in it during the last few weeks. Offense has to do something. No huddle should be the norm, and Turner should be used as a blocker.