A- QUARTERBACK: Cam Newton responded in a big way from his three-interception game against the Giants, throwing for two touchdowns and running for a career-high 86 yards and a score. Newtons fumble prevented the Panthers from sealing the win. But it was an effort play on which he was trying to get the first down.
B- RUNNING BACKS: DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart rushed for more than 40 yards while averaging better than 4 yards a carry. But theyre still not getting many touches, given the big contracts both received. Williams and Tolbert each had a dropped pass.
C RECEIVERS: Steve Smith caught only three passes for 52 yards, but he fumbled on an end around and failed to get his feet in-bounds on a third-down play. Tight end Greg Olsen had another strong game with six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.
B OFFENSIVE LINE: The line was solid in its protection. Newton was sacked three times, although one was on a scramble play when Newton didnt lose a yard and another was on the final play when he was trying to buy time to let his receivers get down field for a Hail Mary.
A DEFENSIVE LINE: End Charles Johnson led a record-setting day for the Panthers front four, who sacked Matt Ryan seven times, a franchise high. Johnson had 3.5 of the sacks, breaking the single-game record of three, established most recently by Julius Peppers in 2008.
D LINEBACKERS: Jon Beason, playing with shoulder and knee injuries, had a couple of missed tackles and was beaten on a touchdown catch when Roddy White worked free between Beason and safety Haruki Nakamura. Luke Kuechly had five tackles two for loss and a pass breakup.
F DEFENSIVE BACKS: Nakamura, thought to be a step up from Sherrod Martin when he was signed in the offseason, had a hand in all three of the Falcons touchdowns and was beaten by White on the play of the game. Captain Munnerlyn had a pass interference penalty on the decisive drive and Josh Norman gave up two catches before Matt Bryants game-winning field goal.
B SPECIAL TEAMS: The punt team did its part, pinning the Falcons at their 1 in the final minute when Kealoha Pilares saved the ball from going in the end zone and Kenny Onatolu downed it. Munnerlyn averaged 7.7 yards per punt return and Pilares averaged 27.5 on two kick returns after Joe Adams was benched.
C COACHING: Sean McDermott drew up a good game plan to put pressure on Ryan without a lot of blitzes. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski had a balanced attack that produced 199 rushing yards and 205 passing. Ron Rivera thought about going for the first down on fourth-and-1, but ultimately elected to punt.