The Series: With the 31-10 victory, Atlanta swept the season series with Carolina and leads the all-time series 20-12. The Panthers lost to the Falcons, also 31-10, earlier this season at Bank of America Stadium (12/12/10). This marked the first time since 2004 that Atlanta defeated Carolina in both regular season meetings.
Southern Cooked: The Panthers ended the 2010 season with an 0-6 record against their NFC South foes. Despite going winless in the division for the first time since it was formed in 2002, Carolina still has a 29-25 overall mark in NFC South play.
For Starters: Rookie fullback Rashawn Jackson made his first NFL start in place of Tony Fiammetta, who was placed on injured reserve (12/31/10). Gary Barnidge started for the third time this season as the Panthers began in a two tight end set.
Team Leaders: Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen completed 19-of-33 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown with one interception to compile a 70.5 quarterback rating in addition to being sacked three times. He threw a 2-yard touchdown to tight end Jeff King in the fourth quarter and distributed his season-high 19 completions to seven different receivers. Clausen bettered his previous best of 18 completions at Seattle (12/5/10). In 13 games with 10 starts this season, he completed 157-of-299 passes for 1,558 yards and three touchdowns with nine interceptions.
Rookie wide receiver Brandon LaFell rushed for a team-high 60 yards on a reverse. The 60-yard end-around represented the team's longest run this year, surpassing Jonathan Stewart's 48-yard gallop versus Atlanta (12/12/10).
LaFell also shared the team lead in receptions with rookie wide receiver David Gettis as both players posted four catches. LaFell finished third on the Panthers with 38 receptions for 468 yards and one touchdown this season, while Gettis led Carolina with an average of 13.7 yards per catch on 37 receptions for 508 yards and three touchdowns.
Offensive Line Paves The Way: Behind an offensive line featuring Jordan Gross at left tackle, Mackenzy Bernadeau at left guard, Ryan Kalil at center, Geoff Schwartz at right guard and Garry Williams at right tackle, the Panthers produced 137 yards rushing on 19 attempts - an average of 7.2 yards per carry.
The front five helped Carolina total more than 100 yards rushing in eight of the last nine games this year with a season-high 212 yards versus Atlanta (12/12/10). The Panthers averaged 115.4 yards rushing on 428 attempts with seven touchdowns this season, including an average of 138.6 yards rushing per game over the last nine games.
In The Zone: The Panthers posted a 100 percent efficiency rating in the red zone, scoring one touchdown and one field goal on two trips inside the Falcons' 20-yard line. Carolina was successful on 22-of-33 red zone opportunities, scoring 10 touchdowns and 12 field goals for a 66.7 percent conversion rate and 30.3 percent touchdown conversion rate, this season.
Takeaway/Giveaway: Carolina forced one turnover on a fumble. Linebacker James Anderson ended an Atlanta scoring threat in the first quarter when he caused Falcons running back Michael Turner to fumble at the Panthers 14-yard line, and cornerback C.J. Wilson recovered the loose ball at the 3-yard line.
The Panthers turned it over twice on a fumble and an interception to finish with a minus-one turnover ratio. The takeaway resulted in no points for Carolina, and the two giveaways led to seven points for Atlanta. The Panthers concluded the season with a negative-eight turnover ratio, compiling a 1-5 record when having a positive turnover margin, an 0-2 record when being even in turnover margin, and a 1-7 record when having a negative turnover margin.
Sakrete Sacks: The Panthers collected one sack against the Falcons and gathered 31 this season. Rookie linebacker/defensive end Eric Norwood corralled his first career sack in the third quarter when he took down Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and forced a fumble on the same play, which resulted in a 3-yard loss.
During the 2010 season, Sakrete, a leader in concrete and concrete-related products, donated $100 to the BVC Playground Build for every sack Carolina recorded. The Panthers' 31 sacks raised $3,100.
The Specialists: Kicker John Kasay connected on his only field goal attempt - converting from 23 yards - and his only extra point chance. He was successful on 25-of-29 field goal attempts and perfect on all 17 of his extra point opportunities for a team-leading 92 points this season.
Punter Jason Baker generated a season-high gross average of 49.1 yards and net average of 35.6 yards with one inside the 20, one touchback and season-long of 60 yards on seven punts. He surpassed his previous season bests of a 47.3-yard gross average at Cleveland (11/28/10) and 57-yard punt, achieved three times - most recently at Seattle (12/5/10).
Baker finished the season with a gross average of 43.1 yards and net average of 36.5 yards with 22 punts inside the 20, seven touchbacks and long of 60 yards on 95 punts. The 95 punts equaled the third-highest single-season total in team history, previously accomplished by Tommy Barnhardt in 1995. Todd Sauerbrun holds the team record with 104 punts in 2002 followed by Baker with 98 in 2006.
Kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd did not reach the end zone on the opening kickoff of the game and later attempted two onside kicks. He tried an onside kick after the Panthers' field goal in the third quarter, and safety Charles Godfrey had an opportunity to recover it but failed to do so. Following Carolina's touchdown in the fourth quarter, Lloyd and Kasay lined up next to each other and both approached the ball with Lloyd kicking it at the last second. However, the kick went out of bounds. Lloyd reached the end zone on 37-of-51 kickoffs with 11 touchbacks this season.
Inactives: The following eight players were inactive for the Panthers: safety Gerald Alexander, cornerback Chris Gamble, defensive tackle Ed Johnson, center Chris Morris, quarterback Keith Null (third quarterback), wide receiver Steve Smith, cornerback R.J. Stanford and linebacker Thomas Williams.
Claw Marks: Rookie wide receiver Armanti Edwards played in his third game this season. He returned two punts for no yards, muffing one. In addition to the two punt returns, he finished the year with one rush for seven yards, no receptions and one pass completion for no yards...Rookie wide receiver Brandon LaFell was penalized for intentional grounding on a wide receiver option pass in the third quarter. He became the sixth player to attempt a pass for the Panthers this year, joining Edwards and quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore, Tony Pike and Brian St. Pierre. The six passers set a team record for the most in a season by Carolina, surpassing the previous mark of five in 1995 when Kerry Collins, Eric Guliford, Frank Reich, Jack Trudeau and Vince Workman all threw passes.
Bird Seed: Falcons wide receiver Eric Weems returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. It marked the first punt return for a touchdown against the Panthers since DeSean Jackson's 85-yarder for Philadelphia (9/13/09).