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Coulda, woulda, shoulda
Panthers show glimpse of possibility against Falcons
 
Published Monday, December 10, 2012 1:11 pm
by Cheris F. Hodges, for The Charlotte Post

On Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers opened a glimpse into the future where they win games by starting fast and finishing strong.

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PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
Carolina Panthers Thomas Davis (58) and Captain Munnerlyn celebrate Davis' interception late in Carolina's 30-20 win against Atlanta Dec. 9 at Bank of America Stadium. The victory was Carolina's first against a team with a winning record this season. Atlanta is 11-2 while the Panthers improved to 4-9.


While beating the team with the best record in the NFC doesn’t put the Panthers in any playoff position, it does give fans and players something to look forward to.


Quarterback Cam Newton made history, becoming the first quarterback to throw for over 250 yards and rush for 100 with a rushing and passing touchdown.


“It was outstanding to put a whole game together,” wide receiver Steve Smith said. “It’s unfortunate it has taken us 10 games later to figure it out.”


Sunday was personal, Newton said. 


“It’s a game in the conference. And with me being from Atlanta, I get hounded so much by family members and friends. I can’t react the way I want. Football brings out so many emotions in people. But I think this game right here gives me the right to have a chip on my shoulder when I go back home.”


The Panthers had their best game of the season, beating the Falcons after a losing to the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The Chiefs, by the way, have the worst record in the league. But the offense and defense were on the same page when it came to beating the Falcons.


“The offense really controlled the first half for us,” said linebacker Luke Kuechly. “They ran up the clock and we didn’t have to play much.”


The offense – led by Newton’s arm, feet and vision – also ran up the score. The Panthers scored in every quarter, much different than a team averaging 18 points per game.


“We know what we’re capable of and that shouldn’t be an ah-hah moment for a lot of people,” Newton said. “But we put ourselves in that position this year.  But we have continue to hone in and do just that.”


Head coach Ron Rivera reiterated that Sunday’s game showed what the Panthers can do.


“These guys have given us great effort all year.  We are capable of big things are there are a group of good guys. This shows you exactly what we can do. They were playing for each other and I couldn’t be more proud.”




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