The setup: Panthers faced a fourth-and-1 from their 38, with 58 seconds left in first quarter.
What happened: Cam Newton took the shotgun snap, waited for his blocks to develop and ran behind left guard Amini Silatolu for 2 yards.
Why it mattered: The conversion extended a 17-play, 72-yard drive that took 9 minutes, 17 seconds off the clock and gave the Panthers a 10-0 lead following Graham Gano's 24-yard field goal.
The setup: Panthers' ball, third-and-6 from their 32, 2:13 remaining in the second quarter.
What happened: Newton was flushed from the pocket and ran right for a 21-yard gain to the Falcons' 47.
Why it mattered: Instead of punting with two minutes left, the Panthers held on to the ball, ran out the clock and increased their lead to 16-0 on a 31-yard field goal by Gano as time expired in the first half.
Ryan's shovel pass
The setup: Falcons faced a fourth-and-4 from the Panthers' 13, 6:07 remaining in the third quarter.
What happened: Matt Ryan sent a shovel pass near the middle of the line to running back Jason Snelling, who picked up 5 yards to the Panthers' 8.
Why it mattered: Two plays later, Ryan threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White, cutting the Panthers' lead to 23-7.
The setup: Falcons went for a fourth-and-8 from the Panthers' 48, 6:25 remaining in fourth quarter.
What happened: Ryan was flushed out of the pocket and rolled right. He tried to throw to White, but linebacker Thomas Davis stretched and made the interception at the Panthers' 40.
Why it mattered: The Falcons trailed 23-13 and had just driven into Panthers' territory. Davis' takeaway – the first of the game for either team – helped swing momentum.
Robinson's defensive holding
The setup: Panthers faced a third-and-9 from their 41, 5:34 remaining in the fourth quarter.
What happened: Newton threw to No. 3 wideout Armanti Edwards, who was stopped short of the first down. But Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson was whistled for holding Edwards, a 5-yard penalty and an automatic first down.
Why it mattered: Two plays after Robinson's penalty, DeAngelo Williams went 53 yards on a screen pass to give the Panthers a 30-13 lead.