By the numbers: Panthers vs. Falcons

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The 20-17 loss to the Panthers seems to squash the Falcons division hopes putting them two games behind the leading Saints as they head into the toughest part of their schedule.

The Falcons had a chance to get at least within field goal range in the game's waning moments, but with the ball and 2:18 left, the Panthers defense held Ryan to just 1-of-4 passing for negative three yards on their final drive and Newton and Co. were able to eat enough time off the clock for the win. Newton was only 5-7 against his hometown team coming into this one, but he ran the ball beautifully (86 yards) and threw it just well enough to help make up for Jonathan Stewart's two lost fumbles in the first half.

Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton scored on short touchdown runs as the Panthers (6-3) wiped out an early 10-0 hole to win for the second week in a row.

Atlanta nearly made a game of it late, cutting the Carolina lead to 20-17 late in the fourth quarter. It marked the third time this season the 4-4 Falcons blew a lead to lose a game.

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Carolina finally found its legs late in the second quarter.

On fourth-and-7 from the Carolina 39 in the fourth quarter, the man who may be the best receiver in the National Football League got open by 10 yards in the Panthers end zone. Atlanta LB Vic Beasley Jr. had one sack, pushing his total to 19.5 since 2016 for the second most in the NFC. The touchdown stood, giving Carolina a momentum-shifting lead as the teams headed into halftime. The Falcons won last season's Christmas Eve game at Carolina, 33-16.

Instead of the struggling rookie we saw in the first eight games, McCaffrey more like the guy Carolina drafted out of Stanford.

Cornerback James Bradberry slipped on the very first play of the game and fell down, ceding a catch of 34 yards to Jones. Here's where I should give a shout-out to the offensive line, too, as Carolina ran the ball for 201 yards.

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