BLOG: Defense, Running Guide Panthers in 20-17 Win Over Falcons

Here's a gallery of the game:

201 yards rushing and another stout defensive effort gave Carolina a huge win to keep pace with New Orleans in the NFC South. Newton had 86 yards on the ground and a spectacular touchdown run to give Carolina the lead for good. Carolina overcame two fumbles from Stewart and got a huge interception by Adams right before halftime to turn the momentum.  

The Panthers move to 6-3 with the win and will play Miami on Monday Night Football next week at home. 

FINAL: Panthers 20, Falcons 17

Panthers will force a fourth and 13 with the game on the line. A pass for Taylor Gabriel is incomplete and the Panthers take over!

On a crucial third and long, the Panthers can't convert. Falcons get the ball back.

Tevin Coleman scores a touchdown on a quick screen pass and it's a game again. 20-17 with 3:31 left. Falcons have two timeouts left. 

Julio Jones drops a wide open catch that would have been a touchdown. Shocking to see that. That's how you know it's not your day. Falcons turn it over on downs and Panthers take over at the 39. with 8:12 left.

A Graham Gano field goal puts the Panthers up 20-10. That's 20 unanswered points for the Panthers after a rough start. 

Panthers force a three and out as Matt Ryan throws an incompletion on third and inches. Interesting playcall there by Atlanta. 

On third and 7, Newton fires a bullet to Shepherd, but he can't hang on. Graham Gano 31-yard field goal is good and it's a 17-10 lead.  

Panthers continue to roll with McCaffrey, Newton and Russell Shepard picking up big first downs. Panthers in the red zone.

HALFTIME: Panthers 14, Falcons 10 - Atlanta was cruising along before being stopped on third and 1 and then fourth and 1. Carolina took over at midfield and hit the gas. Two touchdowns in 92 seconds and they'll get the ball back to start the second half. The Falcons probably feel like they should be winning, having forced two turnovers and outgaining Carolina 217-184. Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant is hurt, which affected Atlanta's decision to go for it on fourth down. 

Newton misses McCaffrey on a deflected pass on second down. Third and 5 from the 9 is converted for a touchdown by Cam! He stretches the ball across the goal line for the touchdown. That's the first time scoring two touchdowns in the final two minutes of any half for the Panthers in franchise history. 14-10 Carolina with 23 seconds left in the half.

Mike Adams with the interception! The fourth interception of the year for Carolina! Falcons tight end Hooper fell down on the route and Adams took it back to the Falcons 31. What a turn of events. It's Adams' second straight game with a interception. 

Nice pitch by Newton to McCaffrey and it's a touchdown Panthers! Newton read the option play and faked the handoff to Stewart before tossing it to the rookie, who could waltz into the end zone. 10-7. 1:55 left in the half.

Newton finds Christian McCaffrey for a third-down conversion and it's first and goal at the 4 at the two-minute warning. Panthers need to get in the end zone here.

Huge play on the catch and run by Devin Funchess! Panthers with the ball at the Atlanta 15. First down. 

Atlanta eating up clock on this drive after starting out at its own three-yard line. Mario Addison with a big stop on 3rd and 1. Falcons go for it and don't get it as Freeman is tripped up short of the line by Kurt Coleman and Thomas Davis. A huge stop for the Panthers and they get the ball back at midfield. 

Falcons finally get the run game going on a nice run from Devonta Freeman for 20 yards. 

Newton missed a wide open Ed Dickson streaking toward the end zone on first down and has to scramble to stay alive before throwing an incompletion on third down. Atlanta bringing its A game on defense so far. Newton just 4 of 8 for 30 yards passing. He's had a big 34-yard run, but has been kept in check otherwise. 

Panthers force a punt after their second turnover, sorely needed. Panthers get the ball back at their own 12. Stewart's fumbles ended a couple of promising drives in Atlanta territory. 

END FIRST QUARTER: Falcons 10, Panthers 0

A 34-yard run by Newton gives the Panthers a shot in the arm they needed. That's before another fumble by Stewart and Falcons recover again. Keanu Neal punched the ball out. The Falcons had forced only four turnovers in the first seven games, yet they have two today. It's the end of the first quarter and those turnovers loom large. 

Ryan finds Sanu on a out route on the goal line in a five-wide receiver set. Panthers down 10-0 after the game's first touchdown with 3:30 left in the first quarter. This won't be the fifth game in which the Panthers haven't allowed a touchdown.

Atlanta overcoming penalties as Ryan throws a howitzer to Mohamed Sanu for a first down in the red zone. 

Matt Ryan threads the needle and gets the ball to Jones again for a big gain. Jones limps off the field. A play action pass to Hooper gets the Falcons another first down for 13 yards and Atlanta is knocking on the door.

Jonathan Stewart fighting for extra yards is stripped of the ball for his second fumble of year and Atlanta recovers. A promising drive ends abruptly. Falcons take over at their own 39-yard line. 

Falcons try to get the run going this drive, but first and second down runs go for 3 yards total. A third down pass to tight end Austin Hooper is wide and another punt is coming. Panthers should get good field position here. 

Cam Newton felt pressure on both passing plays that drive. A second-down throw was affected by a hit and the pocket broke down on third down to force a scramble. Newton was a yard short and Falcons get the ball back. Newton looked to land on his shoulder on the play. Panthers go three and out.

Jones was wide open for a touchdown, but Matt Ryan overthrew him. Huge break for the Panthers. On 3rd and 14, a quick screen to Sanu gives the Falcons 10 yards and moves them into the edge of Matt Bryant's field goal range. The 53-yard try is good. 3-0 Falcons. Jones was open twice on that drive for big plays. 

Julio Jones with a 34-yard catch on the first play. Jones was in single coverage and he's going to win that battle most every time. Falcons called for illegal shift on the next play and then a false start.

Panthers kicking off to start the game. Falcons will get first possession. 

WEEK 9: Atlanta Falcons (4-3) vs. Carolina Panthers (5-3)

Sunday, Nov. 5, 1 p.m.

Bank of America Stadium

Last Week: Panthers beat Buccaneers 17-3, Falcons beat Jets 25-20

It's a huge NFC South showdown as the Falcons come to Charlotte with the Panthers trying move up the division ladder.

Make sure to follow WFMY News 2 sports anchor Luke Lyddon (@Luke_Lyddon) and sports photographer Brian Hall (@bhallwfmy) on Twitter LIVE from Bank of America Stadium for complete coverage! Tweet your fandom at us using the #PanthersOn2 hashtag!

Here's some pregame pics to get you fired up for today's game:

Pregame Notes:

  • INJURY UPDATES: Panthers starting center Ryan Kalil is out as he recovers from a neck injury. Fozzy Whittaker and John Theus will also miss today's game. The Falcons are without linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
  • The Panthers have bolstered one of the league's better defenses the first half of the season, going four games without allowing an offense touchdown. That's second most in NFL history behind the 2002 Buccaneers.
  • Carolina currently sits a half-game behind first-place New Orleans. The Falcons are in third and still looking to recapture their conference championship form from last season.
  • Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was traded to Buffalo in a surprising move earlier this week, leaving Devin Funchess as the No. 1 receiver. In the Panthers’ five wins this season, Funchess has totaled 22 catches for 222 yards and three touchdowns. 
  • Both teams snapped losing streaks last week. Carolina used a strong defensive showing to beat Tampa Bay 17-3 and break a two-game skid. Atlanta had dropped three straight after starting 3-0.
  • Falcons coach Dan Quinn is 3-0 against Panthers coach Ron Rivera. 
  • Atlanta handed Carolina its only loss of the regular season in 2015 when it stunned the Panthers 20-13 in Week 16.

RELATED: BLOG: Panthers, Cam Look to Right the Ship at Tampa Bay

RELATED: PANTHERS BLOG: Chicago Bears 17, Carolina Panthers 3

RELATED: Panthers vs. Falcons: Keys to the Game

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