Defense leads Panthers to fourth straight victory

Nov. 05, 2013 @ 02:40 PM

The Carolina defense forced four turnovers, including a pick-six off of Matt Ryan by Drayton Florence to lead the Panthers to their fourth consecutive win with a 34-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Despite two first half turnovers by Cam Newton, the Panthers still managed to lead 14-10 at the half. Mike Tolbert scored from four yards out in the first quarter and Newton hit Greg Olsen for a 14-yard score in the second.

Tony Gonzalez scored the lone touchdown of the game for the Falcons on a 17-yard pass from Ryan. The touchdown pass one of very few bright spots for Ryan on the day. Ryan threw three interceptions in the game and finished with a QBR of just 30.4.

“If you play sports long enough, there will be ups and downs, and waves throughout that,” Ryan said. “I’ve played poorly before, but it’s about trying to stop that at one, and moving on. I wasn’t able to do that.”

“I know Matt. He’s going to look at this film. He’s going to obsess over it,” Gonzalez said. “I have no doubt he’s going to bounce back.”

On the other side, Newton struggled in the first half with two interceptions of his own. He did come back with a touchdown run in the third quarter, while also leading the offense to two other scoring drives in the half, both of which were capped off with Graham Gano field goals.

“I didn’t put my best foot forward in the first half,” Newton said.

“Everybody gets wrapped up in stats and quarterback ratings and yards per catch or whatever,” Olsen said in defense of his quarterback. “At the end of the day, when you go out and you win 34-10 and you are the quarterback—you did your job.”

While the Panthers have won four straight games, those opponents have a combined record of just 6-27. However, their next two games are against two very formidable opponents with the San Francisco 49ers on the road on Sunday, before returning home to face the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football on November 18. The Patriots and the 49ers have a combined record of 13-4.