Greg Hardy may not be so crazy after all.
After Sunday, the last laugh belongs to Hardy and his teammates.
The Panthers shellacked their NFC South rival 30-20 at Bank of America Stadium, handing the NFC South Champions just their second loss of the season.
Carolina scored on their first five possessions of the game and jumped out to a 23-0 lead before the Falcons could get on the scoreboard.
Cam Newton was spectacular again, registering his third consecutive multi-touchdown game. The second-year quarterback completed 23-of-35 passes for 287 yards and two scores, and ran for 116 yards on nine carries, including a 72-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter.
Matt Ryan engineered a pair of touchdown drives in the third and fourth quarters to cut the lead to 23-13, but any chance of a comeback was quickly squashed when Thomas Davis picked him off on fourth down with under 10 minutes remaining.
Although the Panthers' postseason hopes were dashed weeks ago, this game was an important one for Ron Rivera's team.
Not only did Carolina lose in dramatic fashion when the two teams met for the first time in Week 4, but many players – namely Hardy – were upset with Matt Ryan for shouting "get the f*ck off our field* at the end of the game.
In a little poetic justice, Greg Hardy was caught on camera after the game screaming the same words at the Falcons players (see video below).
Now, the test for the Panthers becomes putting two solid games together. The team has yet to win back-to-back contests this season. They will try to accomplish that task next Sunday when they travel to Qualcomm Stadium to take on the 5-8 San Diego Chargers in a battle of two of the NFL's most disappointing teams.
Game Notes: The Panthers beat the Falcons without several key players: running back Jonathan Stewart, wide receiver Brandon LaFell, linebacker James Anderson and safety Charles Godfrey.
Before Sunday, the Panthers had lost eight of the past nine against the Falcons.
Ron Rivera left the postgame press conference early after he began to get emotional talking about the return of linebacker Thomas Davis, who returned this season after suffering three ACL tears on the same knee.
Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly became the NFL's leader in tackles (130) after recording 16 in Sunday's win.Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Cam Newton, Carolina, Carolina Panthers, Football, Greg Hardy, NFL