Revenge can be very sweet under the right circumstances. For the Panthers, it felt great to put it to the league’s top team the Atlanta Falcons. After a disappointing loss to the Falcons in Atlanta earlier in the season when Matt Ryan made a couple big throws to rally the Falcons, there was no chance of a comeback this time around. After that game Matt Ryan was caught on camera yelling to the Panther sideline to get off their field while mixing in some explicit words as well. This angered and upset several Panthers players who felt disrespected by Ryan, and players like Greg Hardy promised that this game would be different.
This game was highlighted by an uncharacteristic first half of solid defense from the Panthers who out-gained the Falcons 356-86 yards through the first two and a half quarters. Much of the inspiration came from the perseverance of Thomas Davis, who talked to the players before and after the game. His comeback from three ACL injuries to the same knee has shown players, especially younger players that you should never give up. His interception in the fourth quarter helped seal the win and was also his first interception since 2009. For this, Coach Rivera gave him one of the game balls, and was nearly in tears when talking about Davis’s effort.
The Panthers had a 16-0 halftime lead which they stretched to 23-0 before the Falcons finally got on the board. Cam Newton seemed nearly unstoppable yet again, as he continues to build on solid performances the last few weeks. The biggest stat of all is that he’s had zero turnovers over the past four weeks. The play of the game was definitely his 72 yard run and score, which was party of his total 116 yards rushing, a new career high. That coupled with his 2 touchdowns and 287 yards passing was just too much for a Falcons team that was looking to work on getting home field advantage in the playoffs. Now they have to go back to the drawing board, and look to prevent another late season and playoff collapse like they are so prone to doing.