|Written by Mike|
Bet on the NFLThe Carolina Panthers traveled to the Georgia Dome to take on the Atlanta Falcons to determine the winner of the NFC South title. The Panthers were listed at +3 but ran off with a 34-3 blowout win in a game that would eventually put Falcons coach Mike Smith out of a job.
The Panthers had two extended drives in the first quarter. The first was stopped at the goal line and resulted in a field goal while the second entailed Cam Newton getting a touchdown pass to Ed Dickson.
The Falcons scored their only points early in the second when Matt Bryant had a 21-yard field goal. Matt Ryan had two straight incomplete passes in the Panthers' red zone to force a field goal. Later in that quarter, Ryan threw an interception to Roman Harper who then ran it back 31 yards for a touchdown. Thomas Davis also recovered a Falcons fumble and came close to running it back for a touchdown in the same quarter. Newton would run it in himself one play later.
Ryan threw another pick-six in the third quarter. This one was to Tre Boston, who returned it 84 yards. This led to the Panthers running out the clock with their reserves for a massive part of the fourth quarter. They ran a little more than eight minutes out and even converted two third downs when running it out with Fozzy Whittaker doing much of the work.
The Panthers moved to 7-8-1 as Cam Newton had 114 passing yards and led the team with 51 rushing yards. Star Lotulelei had two sacks for the game as well. The Panthers will host the the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs.
The Falcons ended the season with a 6-10 record and not long after the game fired head coach Mike Smith after another season without reaching the playoffs. Matt Ryan went 29-47 with 260 passing yards but had two interceptions returned for a touchdown and was sacked six times. Roddy White led the Falcons with 104 receiving yards. Thomas Dimitroff is expected to remain as the general manager for the Falcons.