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The Journal Gazette

Monday, January 01, 2018 1:00 am

Atlanta 22 Carolina 10

5 FGs place Falcons in playoffs

CHARLES ODUM | Associated Press

ATLANTA – Matt Bryant kicked five field goals, including a 56-yarder, for all of Atlanta's second-half points, and the Falcons clinched a playoff spot Sunday by beating the Carolina Panthers 22-10.

After the teams played to a 7-7 halftime tie, the 42-year-old Bryant kicked field goals of 30, 42, 30, 56 and 33 yards without a miss.

Atlanta (10-6) clinched the No. 6 seed in the NFC and will play at the Los Angeles Rams next week in the first round of the playoffs.

On a day when Cam Newton and the Panthers' offense struggled, Bryant's 15 points provided a margin too great for Carolina to overcome.

Matt Ryan completed 28 of 45 passes for 317 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Freeman on Atlanta's opening drive, and no interceptions.

The Panthers pulled even on Newton's 4-yard scoring pass to Devin Funchess late in the first half.

Newton threw three second-half interceptions. The third interception, by Robert Alford in the end zone with 8 seconds remaining, ended the Panthers' final drive. Newton completed 14 of 34 passes for 180 yards and one touchdown.

With the game tied in the third quarter, the Falcons had an apparent touchdown taken off the board when a review showed Mohamed Sanu didn't maintain control of a 12-yard catch in the end zone.

The ball hit the ground after Sanu collided with Julio Jones, who also was crossing to the middle of the end zone.

The Falcons settled for Bryant's first 30-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.

Newton led the Panthers on a 16-play touchdown drive that consumed more than half of the second quarter and tied the game at 7. A Newton pass to Brenton Bersin set up Newton's 4-yard scoring pass to Funchess.