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

John SullivanOct 22 01:53p

Minnesota Vikings C John Sullivan (concussion) passed his first concussion test, and head coach Mike Zimmer thinks Sullivan will be fine for Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. [ More ]

Jamaal CharlesOct 22 01:53p

Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (concussion) was cleared to practice Wednesday, Oct. 22, but the team will continue to monitor him throughout the week.

Josh McCownOct 22 01:43p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh McCown (thumb) is scheduled to throw Wednesday, Oct. 22, but is not expected to start in Week 8.

R. Griffin IIIOct 22 01:43p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III's (ankle) status for Week 8 against the Dallas Cowboys will be determined by team doctors, according to head coach Jay Gruden. 'It's up [ More ]

Mike GlennonOct 22 01:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Mike Glennon is expected to be the starting quarterback in Week 8.

Marcus LattimoreOct 22 01:33p

San Francisco 49ers RB Marcus Lattimore (knee) will be cleared to practice from the Non-Football Injury list following the team's Week 8 bye. The team plans to activate him [ More ]

Austin DavisOct 22 01:23p

St. Louis Rams QB Austin Davis was 18-for-21 for 152 yards in the team's Week 7 win over the Seattle Seahawks, and former QB Brett Favre thinks Davis could [ More ]

Garrett ReynoldsOct 22 01:23p

Detroit Lions OT LaAdrian Waddle (concussion), who missed three games this year with a calf ailment, didn't practice Wednesday, Oct. 22, due to a concussion. The team used a [ More ]

Colt McCoyOct 22 01:13p

Washington Redskins QBs Robert Griffin III (ankle) and Colt McCoy hopefully will find out the starting quarterback for Week 8 by Thursday, Oct. 23, according to head coach Jay [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 22 12:53p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) is not participating in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Calvin JohnsonOct 22 12:53p

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Reggie BushOct 22 12:43p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

J. BabineauxOct 22 12:33p

Atlanta Falcons DT Jonathan Babineaux (foot) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. OG Justin Blalock (back) and LB Prince Shembo (knee) were limited during practice.

Richard GordonOct 22 12:23p

The Tennessee Titans signed free-agent TE Richard Gordon (Chiefs) Wednesday, Oct 22. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Derek MoyeOct 22 12:23p

The Tennessee Titans signed free-agent WR Derek Moye (Steelers) and LB Nate Askew (Buccaneers) to their practice squad Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Anthony DixonOct 22 10:33a

The Buffalo Bills love RB Anthony Dixon, and he's likely to lead the way at running back over RB Bryce Brown.

L. WashingtonOct 22 10:13a

The Cleveland Browns re-signed DT Jacobbi McDaniel and WR L'Damian Washington to the practice squad Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Brandon PettigrewOct 22 10:13a

Detroit Lions DE Ziggy Ansah (toe), TE Joseph Fauria (ankle), OT LaAdrian Waddle (calf) and TE Brandon Pettigrew (undisclosed) are out of practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Jeff DempsOct 22 09:54a

The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agents RB Jeff Demps (Buccaneers) and Konrad Reuland (Jets) to their practice squad and released QB Dominique Davis and WR Chandler X. Jones from the practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Jon BeasonOct 22 09:43a

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (toe) said it was 50-50 whether he returns this year and will have to get clearance from a foot specialist to make sure [ More ]

Harry DouglasOct 22 08:53a

Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot) will not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. Douglas traveled to London with the team and hopes to play in Week 8.

Dion LewisOct 22 03:03a

In their bye week, the New York Giants are working out several free agents. In addition to QB Terrelle Pryor, who was previously mentioned, other free agents include TE [ More ]

Tony FiammettaOct 22 02:43a

The New York Jets invited four players to work out recently, including free-agent FB Tony Fiammetta (Bears), DB Chris Prosinski (Jaguars), CB Johnny Adams (Raiders) and CB Marcus Cromartie [ More ]

DeMarcus Van DykeOct 22 02:43a

The Miami Dolphins brought in five players for workouts recently, including free-agent DB Tommie Campbell (Titans), DB T.J. Heath (Browns), DB Curtis Marsh (Eagles), WR Derek Moye (Steelers) and [ More ]

Dwayne AllenOct 21 10:23p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen said he was not expecting to be as involved in the red zone as he has been this season. He has five touchdowns in [ More ]

Carson PalmerOct 21 10:03p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) threw at team headquarters Tuesday, Oct. 21, and is 'real close' to 100% percent, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Troy NiklasOct 21 09:33p

Arizona Cardinals TE Troy Niklas (ankle) is unlikely to play in Week 8, head coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Calais CampbellOct 21 09:23p

Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (knee) could return for the team's Week 8 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Paul RichardsonOct 21 08:33p

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson caught four passes on five targets for 33 yards in Week 7. Richardson was targeted just once in the team's first five games.

Chandler JonesOct 21 07:23p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Tuesday, Oct. 21 with a hip injury, according to a source. Jones is expected to miss a month or so.

Jerel WorthyOct 21 06:33p

Kansas City Chiefs DT Jerel Worthy was released Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Marcus ThigpenOct 21 06:23p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed free-agent LB Mister Alexander (Texans) and RB Marcus Thigpen (Dolphins) to their practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 21.

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