CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton added to his MVP resume, completing 15 of 21 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns, and the unbeaten Carolina Panthers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 38-0 on Sunday to clinch a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.
Newton connected on scoring strikes of 74 and 46 yards to Ted Ginn Jr., and Jonathan Stewart ran for a touchdown as the Panthers (13-0) scored on their first three possessions.
Newton also threw a 4-yard TD pass to Ed Dickson in the final seconds of the first half before leaving for good at the end of the third quarter with Carolina up 38. He finished with a career-high quarterback rating of 153.3, and the Panthers won their 17th straight regular-season game.
Carolina's defence forced four turnovers and had five sacks, while limiting struggling Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to 224 yards passing. Atlanta is 6-7.
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Steve Reed, The Associated Press