Panthers clinch NFC South, edge Falcons 21-20 - NBC Sports

Panthers clinch NFC South, edge Falcons 21-20
APWF
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton runs after the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
December 29, 2013, 4:23 pm

ATLANTA (AP) Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team- record four sacks and the Carolina Panthers clinched the NFC South title by beating the Atlanta Falcons 21-20 on Sunday.

The Panthers (12-4) clinched a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one game as the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Carolina could move up to the No. 1 seed with losses by Seattle and Arizona in late games.

Carolina set a team record by sacking Matt Ryan nine times. The defense also produced a touchdown on Melvin White's 7-yard interception return in the second quarter.

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had four catches for 56 yards and was honored at halftime in his final regular-season game. He has announced plans for retirement.

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