Matt Ryan threw for 190 yards and a touchdown, Mykal Walker returned an interception of Cam Newton 66 yards for a touchdown and the Atlanta Falcons continued to play well on the road with a 29-21 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Cordarrelle Patterson ran for 58 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons (6-7), who improved to 6-2 away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium and kept their playoff hopes alive.
Newton ran for a 12-yard touchdown but turned over the ball twice and was benched midway through the fourth quarter for P.J. Walker. The Panthers (5-8) turned it over three times in all and have lost eight of their last 10 games under second-year coach Matt Rhule. Newton has lost his last 11 starts as Carolina’s starting quarterback dating back to 2018.
With the Panthers trailing 20-14 midway through the third quarter, Newton tripped over center Pat Elflein’s foot after taking the snap. He tried to reach out to hand off to running back Chuba Hubbard, but instead fumbled near midfield.
The Falcons took advantage with tight end Hayden Hurst, just back from short-term injured reserve, hauling in a wide-open 3-yard touchdown pass in the flat for a 26-14 lead.
Atlanta seemed in control and was working the clock when third-string running back Qadree Ollison fumbled at midfield and the Panthers recovered. Walker cashed in with a 5-yard pass to Robby Anderson to cut the lead to 29-21 with 3:11 left.
The Panthers were looking for a stop on Atlanta’s final possession, but Ryan hooked up with Kyle Pitts for a 24-yard gain on a third-and-14 on a busted coverage; two Carolina players collided. The Falcons then ran out the clock.
Things started well for new Panthers signal caller Jeff Nixon, who took over this week after offensive coordinator Joe Brady was fired.
Carolina drove 65 yards in nine plays on its opening drive while going up-tempo, and Newton capped it with a 12-yard touchdown run for an early 7-0 lead. But the Panthers’ offense after that, and Newton’s 12th pick-6 of his career helped the Falcons take a 17-7 halftime lead.
Newton was trying to get the ball to Ameer Abdullah out of the backfield, but Atlanta’s Walker undercut the route and took it to the end zone.
Falcons: Safety Erik Harris (chest) and linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee (knee) both left in the third quarter and did not return.
Panthers: No injuries reported.
Falcons: at San Francisco next Sunday.
Panthers: at Buffalo next Sunday.