Excruciating drop by Julio Jones helps Panthers get division win over Falcons

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In a game that went down to the wire, the Carolina Panthers were able to knock off their arch rivals at home, taking down the Atlanta Falcons 20-17 on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte. The quarterback ran for 86 yards on nine carries and even rattled off a 34-yard gain in the first quarter.

Carolina entered the game ranked second in the National Football League in sacks, but their first of the game didn't come until the end of the third quarter. He played out of his mind today, as he does most weeks. In the third quarter, the Falcons had the ball for just three minutes and 15 seconds, gaining a total of seven yards.

Matt Ryan, last year's NFL MVP, threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns and had one costly first half interception for the defending NFC champion Falcons (4-4), who fell two games behind New Orleans at the midway point of their season.

The Falcons didn't waste much time Sunday adding to their miniscule takeaway total as strong safety Keanu Neal twice in the first quarter forced Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart to fumble and Atlanta recovered both time.

Jones' bobble magnified another implosion for the Falcons in a 20-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Worst of all, the best player on their team looks like he's hurting. After the first recovery, Atlanta marched downfield and scored easily as Mohamed Sanu stutter-stepped on an out-route from the slot at the Carolina 6-yard line to get by Daryl Worley. Carolina running backs have only scored two of the team's six rushing touchdowns through week 9.

The Panthers are now 6-3, still a half-game behind the 6-2 Saints, who routed the 2-6 Bucs. Newton passed for 154 yards in the air, including a fourth-quarter touchdown strike to Kelvin Benjamin to seal the win. The defense forced the Panthers to go three-and-out, but the offense tried four straight passes to get a 1st down and couldn't get it done.

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