Panthers clinch NFC South, edge Falcons 21-20

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 29, 2013 at 3:40 pm •  Published: December 29, 2013
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After trailing 10-0, the Panthers dominated the remainder of the half and had the better end of an exchange of turnovers.

DeAngelo Williams cut through the line for a 56-yard run but fumbled when hit by Robert Alford. Desmond Trufant recovered at the Atlanta 4.

The turnover only set up a giveaway by the Falcons. Melvin White stepped in front of Harry Douglas for an interception and touchdown return.

Carolina took a 14-10 lead with a long drive at the end of the half. A 21-yard pass interference penalty against Alford and a 17-yard run by fullback Mike Tolbert helped set up Newton's 3-yard scoring pass to Ginn, who was left open when linebacker Stephen Nicholas was frozen by Newton's fake inside handoff to Tolbert.

The Falcons took a 17-14 lead early in the third quarter on Ryan's 39-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White.

The Panthers were without Steve Smith, the team's second-leading receiver, and running back Jonathan Stewart. Smith sprained his left knee during Carolina's 17-13 win over New Orleans last week and was on the field for pregame warmups.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Friday he expects Smith to be ready for the playoffs.

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (knee) and running back Jacquizz Rodgers (concussion) were inactive for Atlanta.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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