(ATLANTA) — The Panthers (12-4) defense delivered on the road and the team clinched the NFC South title with a 21-20 win over the Falcons (4-12) on Sunday.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton tossed two touchdown passes and gave Carolina the lead for good in the third quarter when he hit Greg Olsen with a seven-yard pass in the end zone.
Greg Hardy recorded four sacks and Carolina’s defense held the Falcons to a field goal in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
“It’s about the team,” Hardy said when asked about his record. “I know we got the team record and that’s all that matters.”
Newton rushed for 72 yards in the win and is happy to have a first round bye and a home game in the playoffs.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that we need back that play an intricate role in making this team go,” Newton said.
In the final game of his career, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had four catches for 56 yards and was honored at halftime.
“Honestly, it went exactly as I thought it would go except for the winning part,” Gonzalez said. “We weren’t able to pull it out. … My career has turned out to be something more than I ever thought and more than I ever dreamed.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Newswire
Jill Martin, CNN