The chase for the title in the NFC South is done and the winner is … the Carolina Panthers. No surprise since they are the only team in the league with an undefeated record. The only question now as far as the regular season is concerned is will they finish 16-0.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was very efficient completing 15 passes on 21 attempts for 265 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers beat the Atlanta Falcons.
The Panthers shut the Falcons out as they intercepted two passes, recovered two fumbles, and sacked Matt Ryan five times. The outcome was a definition of a rout as the Panthers collected 424 yards to the Falcons 230.
The Panthers scored on their first three possessions –- a Jonathan Stewart one-yard touchdown run and two touchdown passes to Ted Ginn Jr. of 74 yards and 46 yards.
Newton also threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Ed Dickson in the final seconds of the first half.
Leading rusher for Carolina was Stewart, who gained 75 yards on 10 carries and scored a touchdown. Back-up running back Fozzy Whittaker had eight rushes for 34 yards and a touchdown. The top receiver was Ginn, who caught two passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. The running backs for the Panthers combined for a total of 142 yards.
Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan completed 22 passes on 34 attempts for 224 yards and one interception. He was sacked three times. Leading rusher for the Falcons was Devonta Freeman, who gained 40 yards on 12 carries. The Falcons’ runners could only collect a total of 54 yards.
The loss was the Falcons’ sixth in a row after starting the season 5-0. PANTHERS 38 FALCONS 0
Brees performance continues to set records. He took sole possession of third place on the list of most touchdown completions in December. He moved ahead of Dan Marino, who had 110. Only Peyton Manning (134) and Brett Favre (116) have more.
Brees also tied Manning for the most career 300-yard games with his 93rd.
He finished with 31 completions on 41 passes for 312 yards and was sacked twice. Leading rusher for the Saints was Hightower, who gained 85 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown. Leading receivers were Willie Snead, who caught seven passes for 122 yards and Benjamin Watson, who caught seven passes for 70 yards.
The connection of Brees to Colston have accounted for 71 touchdowns over 10 seasons and puts the duo in fifth on the list of most touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver combination in NFL history. Only Manning-Marvin Harrison, Steve Young-Jerry Rice, Marino-Mark Clayton and Philip Rivers-Antonio Gates have more. Colston finished the day with six catches for 36 yards.
The Saints offense converted 12 out of 17 third downs while the Buccaneers hurt themselves with eight penalties totaling 80 yards.
Still Buccaneers’ quarterback Jameis Winston made the game interesting completing a touchdown pass to Adam Humphries in the fourth quarter making the score 24-17. They got the ball back with about five minutes remaining, but were forced to punt after a three-and-out and they never got another chance again. The Saints went on to grind out three first downs to end the game.
Winston completed 18 passes on 32 attempts for 182 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked once. Doug Martin rushed for 81 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Leading receiver for the Buccaneers was Charles Sims, who caught six passes for 64 yards. SAINTS 24 BUCCANEERS 17
NFC SOUTH STANDINGS Overall Division Conference
c-CAROLINA PANTHERS 13-0 4-0 9-0
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 6-7 3-2 5-4
ATLANTA FALCONS 6-7 0-4 4-6
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 5-8 2-3 4-6
c- Clinched Division
NFC SOUTH SCHEDULE
BUCCANEERS @ RAMS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2015
FALCONS @ JAGUARS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2015
PANTHERS @ GIANTS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2015
LIONS @ SAINTS MONDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2015
Courtesy of Businessinsider.com