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Rapid Reactions: Panthers fall to Falcons, 29-21

Falcons interception

CHARLOTTE — Sometimes football games are won and lost for complicated reasons.

Sometimes it's very simple.

The Panthers lost 29-21 to the Falcons Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, a result that was fairly easy to analyze.

The Panthers turned the ball over three times.

The Falcons turned those gifts into 13 points in an eight-point game.

And while Carolina pushed every button — playing both quarterbacks — neither one was particularly sharp.

Cam Newton threw a pick-six in the second quarter, and also fumbled the ball away in the third quarter. On that, it appeared center Pat Elflein stepped on Newton's foot, and he lost the ball while falling and trying to get it to running back Chuba Hubbard.

Backup P.J. Walker alternated in for a series late in the second quarter and threw an interception of his own before returning in the fourth quarter.

Those three turnovers were the difference in a relatively evenly-matched game between teams that entered with identical 5-7 records.

But the Panthers have now lost eight of their last 10 after a 3-0 start, and fell to 2-5 at home this season.

Newton finished the game 15-of-23 for 178 yards with an interception and 47 rushing yards on 10 attempts.

Walker was 6-of-12 for 75 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

When Walker got them into the end zone with 3:11 left in the game, they put Newton back in for a conversion attempt. But a false start penalty on left tackle Cameron Erving backed them up, eliminating the chance. It was that kind of day.

— The Falcons also picked up a field goal after a somewhat questionable roughing the passer call on nickel Myles Hartsfield, after what appeared to be a third-down stop.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule argued his case, in vain, to officials.

The Panthers have been among the league's most penalized teams, and they added six for 45 yards Sunday.

— The stat sheet will show the Panthers allowed just a single sack (on a fourth-and-10 early in the fourth quarter). But it was not a successful day for the reconstituted offensive line.

Dennis Daley started at left guard, and struggled there. He had started the previous three at left tackle in the absence of Erving. The Panthers have started nine different combinations of blockers in 13 games.

Erving left the game for one play to get checked in the injury tent, and Deonte Brown got his first offensive snap of the season at left guard, while Daley slid out to tackle. Erving returned on the next series.

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