Carolina quarterback Cam Newton started to heat up in the second quarter and led the Panthers on a 16-play, 78-yard touchdown drive to tie the game, 7-7, at the half.
Newton missed his first nine passes, but got hot. He hit seven passes in a row, including a third-and-23 to Brenton Bersin for 27 yards and a 4-yard touchdown pass to Devin Funchess.
The Falcons tried to get in field goal range with 50 seconds left, but they’d used all of their timeouts during the Panthers’ touchdown drive.
The Falcons thought they had spiked the ball in time from Panthers’ 36, but the clock ran out. The Falcons protested and would not immediately leave the field.
A false start penalty on tight end Austin Hooper was costly in the last-ditch drive.