For the second time in franchise history, the Carolina Panthers have scored 30-plus points in four consecutive games as Cam Newton led the team on an offensive explosion to dominate the Atlanta Falcons, 38-0, on Sunday. The Panthers are the last remaining unbeaten team at 13-0, and haven't lost a regular season game in over a year.
Carolina put up a total of 424 yards of offense and scored 28 points in the first half alone against their NFC South rivals. Newton finished the game having completed 15 of 21 passes for 265 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Ted Ginn Jr. had two catches for 120 yards and Greg Olsen had 52 yards on three catches before he left the game with an injury.
On the ground, Carolina managed a total of 142 yards, with 75 of them coming from starting running back Jonathan Stewart. They outgained the Falcons 142 to 54 yards on the ground. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 224 yards, but was held out of the end zone and tossed an interception. Devonta Freeman rushed for just 40 yards on 12 carries.
Going into Sunday, the Panthers ranked 14th in the league in total offense, below many struggling teams like the San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons. But on the other side of the ball, the Panthers ranked third in total defense. Ron Rivera's defense has been aggressive and managed to shut down multiple strong offenses this season, so the way they dominated the game on offense was more surprising.
Then again, the Falcons were ranked 14th in the league in total defense, so the matchup was even on paper.
It was anything but on the field and on the stat sheet. Carolina managed 240 yards of total offense in the first quarter, more yardage than any team has put up in a single quarter this season. When halftime hit, the Panthers had a 28-0 lead, with 349 offensive yards and 15 first downs. Atlanta had just 96 total yards and eight first downs at the break.
Atlanta has now lost six consecutive games and sits at 6-7 on the season, a wild card playoff berth is now a distant hope. The Falcons have now given up 20-plus points in their last four games and have allowed 30-plus points for the second time this season.
This comes just days after the Falcons were criticized by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy, who said that there was a definite lack of effort from the Atlanta defense last week. Rookie head coach Dan Quinn took over the Falcons after a stint as the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. He was expected to come in and revamp a hapless defense, but the results in recent weeks haven't been pretty.
The Falcons will next play the Jacksonville Jaguars, and will wrap their season at home against the New Orleans Saints, but between those games they will have a rematch with Carolina. The Panthers have games against the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Falcons still remaining on the schedule as they look to become the first team to finish the regular season at 16-0 since the New England Patriots in 2007.