ATLANTA — Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team- record four sacks and the Carolina Panthers clinched the NFC South title by beating the Atlanta Falcons 21-20 on Sunday.
The Panthers (12-4) clinched a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one game as the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Seattle beat St. Louis 27-9, meaning Carolina will only get home field advantage in the divisional round.
Carolina set a team record by sacking Matt Ryan nine times. The defense also produced a touchdown on Melvin White’s 7-yard interception return in the second quarter.
Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had four catches for 56 yards and was honored at halftime in his final regular-season game. He has announced plans for retirement.