CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers still haven't won a close game.
Lately, they haven't needed to.
The Panthers intercepted Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan three times Sunday--returning one for a touchdown--to roll to a 34-10 victory at sun-splashed Bank of America Stadium.
The Panthers (5-3) won their fourth in a row and their fifth in six games. Carolina has scored at least 30 points in each of its victories, winning by an average margin of 24 points.
Veteran cornerback Drayton Florence had the last of the Panthers' three interceptions. He jumped a Ryan route along the sideline and made a shoe-top catch, returning it 38 yards to give the Panthers a 31-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Atlanta (2-6), which has been plagued by injuries, lost for the fifth time in six games.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw for 249 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for a score.
Newton tossed two first-half interceptions, ending the Panthers' streak of three games without a turnover.
It was the Panthers' first win in 10 games in which Newton has thrown two interceptions or more.
"I thought Cam, even though his stats maybe aren't as good as the last couple weeks, I was as proud of him today as I've been any game. He stuck with it and led us down the field," veteran offensive tackle Jordan Gross said.
"It wasn't real pretty. He was getting banged around in the pocket. The run game was kind of slow starting and there wasn't long play after long play," Gross added. "We kind of had to hang in there and take our punches. He just kept his composure and was never rushed or stressed out or seeming to feel the pressure and by the end of the day we were all smiling."
Newton underthrew Ted Ginn on the first pick, then overthrew Steve Smith in the end zone from the Falcons' 19 with 14 seconds left. Atlanta cornerback Robert Alford snagged the ball in the corner of the end zone, but officials initially ruled he was out of bounds.
The call was reversed after a replay review, keeping the Panthers from adding to their 14-10 lead before the half.
Meanwhile, the Panthers' defense struggled in the first half to contain future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons' lone proven receiving threat with wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White out with injuries.
Gonzalez caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in the first half. The rest of Atlanta's receivers totaled six first-half catches for 62 yards.
But Gonzalez was a non-factor in the second half, catching one pass for 4 yards.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the Panthers changed their scheme against Gonzalez in the second half, although strong safety Quintin Mikell said execution was the key.
"Tony is hard to stop. That's why he's a Hall of Famer. But we just turned it up a little bit the second half and played our technique a little bit better," Mikell said.
"We were aware where he was at all times. Obviously, we know that Matt Ryan, that's his go-to guy, especially in crucial situations. For the most part we were on for the first half. He was just making plays. We had better eyes the second half and I think that was the big difference."
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