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Panthers clinch playoff bye, hold off Falcons 21-20

Matt Ryan ,Nate Chandler AP

The Panthers didn’t make it easy on themselves, or Matt Ryan.

The Panthers clinched the NFC South title at least a bye week in the NFC playoffs, beating the Falcons 21-20 to finish 12-4.

They did it by hanging on offensively, and pounding the Falcons with their pass rush. Ryan was sacked nine times, with Greg Hardy posting four of those in his last regular season game before free agency. That gives Hardy 15 on the season, equalling Kevin Greene’s franchise record.

The Panthers have to wait on late results to see which seed they’ll hold, but they know they’ll get an extra week off.

They need all the time they can get to get Steve Smith healthy, as their offense clearly missed a gear without the veteran wide receiver. Cam Newton was held to 149 passing yards, but ran for 72 yards to keep just enough offense sustained.

The Falcons had a last crack at it, but a promising drive was derailed when the ball was snapped before Ryan was ready for it, driving them far out of field goal position. It was a ridiculous end to a ridiculous season for the 4-12 Falcons.

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17 Responses to “Panthers clinch playoff bye, hold off Falcons 21-20”
  1. goldrush36 says: Dec 29, 2013 4:07 PM

    So where’s all the idiots flappin their gums about the Falcons givin the Niners a run? Like I said the team was getting healthier and it’s all about matchups. Yet GB is already sizing their rings despite not even being in the playoffs yet

  2. tubbman27 says: Dec 29, 2013 4:11 PM

    EA: What are you going to do on your bye?

    Cam: Get better.

    EA: Where?

    Cam: In Charlotte.

    ummmmm…?

  3. Gordon says: Dec 29, 2013 4:12 PM

    Cam Newton is a really inaccurate passer. Not sure how far they can go in the playoffs if he can’t hit receivers.

  4. meatcarroll says: Dec 29, 2013 4:15 PM

    Remember when the Seahawks were lambasted for barely beating the “lowly” Panthers IN Carolina?

  5. jerrysshadescleaner says: Dec 29, 2013 4:16 PM

    Most overrated def, they will get stomped at home, cammie will get exposed, no match for any other playoff team! So all u kitty fans enjoy it now cause the panthers will b put down soon, now can u dig that Suckasssss!!!

  6. jacobslatter says: Dec 29, 2013 4:17 PM

    A ridiculous solution to this ridiculous season is to be in position to draft DE Jadeveon Clowney, The Scarlet Speedster, with the 1st round pick. Keep Osi Umenyiora & his 7.5 sacks as a vet presence along with a healthy Kroy Biermann plus The Sacksquatch Malliciah Goodman (who had no sacks) and the other rookie DE Stansly Maponga & Jonathan Massaquoi WHAMMO! watch it all come together next season along the DLine like it is for Carolina and their 9 sacks today. DT needs to be addressed also with old man Babaneaux a free agent & DT Corey Peters out for 9 months & even Peria Jerry is injured now. Drug pipe down.

  7. nfl4days says: Dec 29, 2013 4:18 PM

    As a saints fan, I’m really happy for Cam. Nothing like clinching a first round bye in your pro bowl year to shut up the haters. I’ve been saying for years all they needed was a defense and they would be dangerous. Get cam some sure handed receivers and this team could win multiple championships no doubt.

  8. pftstory says: Dec 29, 2013 4:31 PM

    I had Rivera fired before seasons end. Impressed with the recovery.
    Meanwhile, the Falcons ridiculous season shows some class. We read here they were tanking for the draft pick after Ryan didn’t take on 3 defenders inside the 5 with no shot at reaching the goal line a few weeks back.
    Since then they screwed up that low draft pick by winning and pushed two strong playoff teams to the brink.
    Nine sacks (even against a great D) should confirm the O-line is absolute CRAP. Yet they were still a bonehead snap (by of course an O-lineman) and a few yards away from having Carolina sweat out a game winning field goal attempt.
    So while other organizations fell into drama as their seasons fell apart, this team stayed united.
    The problem is obvious, now can the front office fix them?

  9. rjkilla says: Dec 29, 2013 4:33 PM

    gregg “the kraken” hardy was an animal today. matt ryan is gonna see him in the rear view on the way home

  10. c297201d says: Dec 29, 2013 4:55 PM

    sorry lucky bastards!

  11. seenoland54 says: Dec 29, 2013 4:56 PM

    Let the Falcons be a warning to every front office in the league. You ignore your line year after year to go after “weapons” and you’ll get yourself set back for years by the time you realize the error of your ways. The Falcons can go after nothing but linemen next year and it won’t help, a line needs talent playing together to get the right chemistry and the Falcons front office has completely demolished their line for years to come.

  12. bc1906 says: Dec 29, 2013 6:48 PM

    I love how everyone hates on Cam for being inaccurate. If you can win games, it matters not if you are accurate. Ask Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson. Defenses CAN win championships. And this defense is sick….. And for the guy who said they are overrated, check the stat sheet dude. Plus, they have beaten SF, NE, and NO already. And we were 1 fumble away from beating the Seahawks. Go Panthers!!! The city of Charlotte is behind you all the way, boys!!!

  13. ehawley01 says: Dec 29, 2013 8:25 PM

    I guess a 1 point win is as good as a 100 point win, but this is the NFL, and on any given Sunday? blah blah…..and so on! Go Panthers!

  14. pfic15 says: Dec 29, 2013 8:56 PM

    That botched snap defines the Falcons season: Fail.

  15. pleasenukeatlanta says: Dec 29, 2013 11:10 PM

    You say Cam is inaccurate as you watch highlights of your center snapping a ball over Matt Ryan’s head to end your season down by 1 point in the 4th quarter. That play will be 2nd to Sanchez’s butt-fumble as the dumbest play in NFL history. I live in North Carolina and wouldn’t go to “Hotlanta” if Pink Floyd played a free reunion concert at the Fox Theatre. If you want to see a playoff game and enjoy a beer without dodging bullets leave “The Dirty” drive up 85 North to The “Queen City”, but wait a week because we have a first round bye.

  16. bmorefalcon says: Dec 30, 2013 8:53 AM

    Good job to the Panthers on playing a great game. They have been gathering talent for a while now and it is good to see them get their shot.

    If there is anything that we can do to screw the Saints in the future, please let us know.

    -The Falcons

  17. doubleogator says: Dec 30, 2013 10:26 AM

    At least the Falcons played hard and didn’t quit…this coming from a disappointed Saints fan on the final outcome.

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