2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Newton, Panthers starting to hit their stride

By STEVE REED - AP Sports Writer
    2012-12-10 04:24

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - After struggling to score points and move the chains for much of the season, the Carolina Panthers' offense has suddenly hit its stride.

Too bad it's too late in the year to make a difference.

At 4-9 the Panthers won't be playing in the postseason, which makes Carolina's 30-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday a little bittersweet.

``This shows what we were capable of,'' coach Ron Rivera said. ``That's the sad part.''

Cam Newton threw for 287 yards and scored on a 72-yard run as the Panthers piled up 475 yards. The second-year quarterback ran for a career-high 116 yards to help the Panthers snap a five-game losing streak against their I-85 rivals.

Said offensive tackle Jordan Gross: ``Our offense today is what I kind of thought it would be all year long. We passed well. We threw the ball. We ran the ball well. We blocked well.''

For Newton, it was his first victory in four tries against his hometown team and he admitted after the game it was a special feeling.

``I think this game allows me to have a little chip on my shoulder,'' said Newton, last year's AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Since Week 9, Newton has 15 TDs (11 passing, four rushing) and two turnovers.

``I think this whole offense is clicking and you know, we've just got to connect the dots,'' Newton said.

Carolina's defense was superb through 2 1/2 quarters, helping build a 23-0 lead and a 356-86 edge in total yards.

The Panthers came in with little to play for except to gain a measure of revenge on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, whom they felt disrespected them after Atlanta's 30-28 come-from-behind win on Sept. 30.

Defensive end Greg Hardy and others were upset when television cameras caught Ryan cursing at the Panthers sideline, telling them to get off the Falcons' field. Hardy responded by saying last week the Panthers were a ``better team'' than the Falcons, adding a variety of trash talk.

After Sunday's win Hardy turned the tables on the Falcons, repeating several times what Ryan told them back in Week 4 as he walked off the field.

At one point Falcons kicker Matt Bryant returned fire at Hardy, saying ``Watch us in January.''

Hardy left the locker room before reporters were allowed in.

Ryan downplayed the war of words.

``I don't pay too much attention to it,'' said Ryan, who threw for 342 yards and two scores with one interception. ``They were better than us today, that's for sure. They came out and played better than us. We're in a position in our season where we've got everything right in front of us, and we need to get back to work and worry about that.''

Said Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn: ``It's tough to say that we're overall better than the Falcons because they're 11-2, but I like Greg's confidence.''

The Falcons, of course, are headed to the playoffs and Sunday was a speed bump in what has been an outstanding season.

However, the loss will certainly be of concern to Falcons fans that have witnessed good teams in the past under coach Mike Smith either fade late in the season or struggle in the playoffs.

Smith said he'll use the loss as a ``teaching point'' and that ``we have to play our best football here in the fourth quarter'' of the season.

It was all Carolina in the first half, beginning with the coin toss.

The Panthers hadn't won a coin flip all year until Sunday, causing team captain Jordan Gross to exalt at midfield by thrusting both arms into the air. Including overtime, the Panthers were 0-13 on coin flips.

``I've never seen people cheering so loud for a coin toss,'' Gross said with a laugh.

Carolina quickly took advantage, taking the opening kickoff and going 77 yards in 11 plays with Greg Olsen making a leaping grab in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

That set the tone for the first half.

By the time Graham Gano's third field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired, the Panthers led 16-0 and had run 45 plays to Atlanta's 13, outgaining the Falcons 270-35.

Led by Newton, who had some big runs on third-and-long, including a highlight-reel 14-yarder in which he avoided three tacklers on third-and-11, the Panthers had 15 first downs to Atlanta's two.

Carolina didn't let up in the second half.

After the Panthers stuffed Atlanta on its first drive, Newton faked a handoff to DeAngelo Williams and raced 72 yards to the end zone, getting an assist from receiver Steve Smith, who took out two would-be tacklers with a big block around the 20. Newton somersaulted into the end zone for a 23-0 lead.

``I had a lot of practice blocking playing for (former Panthers) coach (John) Fox,'' Smith said, referring to Fox's tendency to run more than pass it while in Carolina.

Ryan threw two touchdown passes and Michael Turner ran for one, but the Falcons couldn't catch up.

The Panthers put it away midway through the fourth quarter. After costly defensive holding penalty on cornerback Dunta Robinson, Williams caught a screen pass from Newton and raced 53 yards for a 30-13 lead.

NOTES: The Panthers played without four starters: WR Brandon LaFell, RB Jonathan Stewart, LB James Anderson and DT Dwan Edwards. ... Rivera ended his news conference early after starting to get emotional talking about the comeback of Thomas Davis, who has battled back from three torn ACLs to be a major contributor this season. ... Atlanta had won eight of the past nine games against Carolina before Sunday's loss.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) continues through the concussion protocol this week, but head coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates Gore suiting up in Week 16 against the San [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 18 05:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Dec. 18.

Blake BortlesDec 18 04:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has earned positive reviews from the team in his rookie season after being thrust into the spotlight early this year. 'That is not the [ More ]

Jay CutlerDec 18 04:12p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler was benched just for this week against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler will be active and serve as the [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsDec 18 04:02p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (hand) will be fitted cast that he can play with on his injured hand. Williams still has not caught a pass with the injured [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 04:02p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) has not been able to do any running this week, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.

Ryan MathewsDec 18 03:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and appears to be on track to start in Week 16, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

DeMarco MurrayDec 18 02:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand), who was expected to take some team snaps in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, is in no more risk if he plays in Week [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:12p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) said he is not dealing with any pain in his back but is taking things one day at a time. Newton said he [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 02:02p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) left practice early Thursday, Dec. 18, because he is receiving a scheduled day of rest. Manning was not limping when he was walking to the locker room.

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Chris PolkDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 01:22p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) had an increased set of repetitions in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and it looks like he's on track to play in Week 16 [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 12:52p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Andre JohnsonDec 18 12:52p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson (concussion) has cleared the leagues concussion protocol and will play in the team's Week 16 game.

Julio JonesDec 18 12:12p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Case KeenumDec 18 10:03a

Houston Texans QB Case Keenum is expected to start in Week 16.

Philip RiversDec 18 09:22a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is battling a back injury that is more severe than the team has acknowledged, according to a league source. Rivers' back injury [ More ]

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:03a

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy opened practice on the sidelines Wednesday, Dec. 17, while RB Chris Polk opened with first-team reps. After practice McCoy did not seem too concerned. [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanDec 18 01:03a

The Denver Broncos are hopeful RB Ronnie Hillman (foot) will be able to return for the Week 16 game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, Dec. 22, or for the [ More ]

Drew StantonDec 17 07:33p

Arizona Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee) said this injury is different from any other he's ever had, and he said it's too soon to know if he could return [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 07:03p

San Francisco 49ers RBs Frank Gore (concussion) and Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Jay CutlerDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Jimmy ClausenDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group