Panthers handle Falcons

The Carolina Panthers defeated an old nemesis, all while internal fractures continued to heal. In Sunday's 24-9 Carolina victory over Atlanta at Bank of America Stadium, Steve Smith caught a 56-yard touchdown from Jake Delhomme, then proceeded to hand the ball to teammate Ken Lucas.

It was a good day for the Black and Blue, although injuries to tackles Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah made the team colors seem appropriate.

The Panthers overcame that, an overturned defensive touchdown in the first quarter (a Richard Marshall score was brought back by a roughing-the-passer penalty on Julius Peppers), and a blocked punt by controlling the game on both sides of the line of scrimmage throughout.

Smith and Muhsin Muhammad combined for 243 receiving yards and each had a touchdown (Muhammad's gave him the team record in that category), and the Panthers defense stuffed the Falcons rushing attack when it had to. Atlanta's Michael Turner, who came into the game as the League leading rusher, was held to 56 yards on 18 carries. Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan was limited to 158 passing yards.

The Panthers earned their 100th victory in franchise history, and just their 11th in 27 meetings with their I-85 rival, although they have now beaten the Falcons five of the last seven times.

Carolina now shares the lead in the NFC South with Tampa Bay, which defeated Green Bay Sunday. Both teams are 3-1, with Atlanta and New Orleans just a game back at 2-2.

The Panthers host Kansas City next Sunday.

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