ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan and Julio Jones brought down some team records — and the defending NFC champions.
Ryan shredded Carolina's defense, passing for a team-record 503 yards and four touchdowns, Jones had 12 receptions for a Falcons-record 300 yards, and Atlanta overwhelmed the struggling Panthers 48-33 on Sunday.
A week after being held to one catch in a win at New Orleans, Jones had a 75-yard scoring catch late in the game as Atlanta (3-1) solidified its early hold on the NFC South lead. Jones' 12 catches came on 15 targets.
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
"We got Julio the ball in space and when he has the ball in space he's so explosive," Ryan said.
The totals by Ryan and Jones are the most ever allowed by Carolina (1-3), and the first time teammates had 500 yards passing and 300 yards receiving, according to information provided to the Falcons by Elias.
(AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton left the game in the fourth quarter. The team said Newton suffered a concussion after taking a hit from Deion Jones on a successful 2-point run. There appeared to be helmet-to-helmet contact but there was no penalty on the hit.
Newton appeared to be trying to take a casual jog into the end zone when he was knocked to the ground by Jones. Newton still reached the ball across the goal line.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera had no update on Newton following the game. Newton's replacement, Derek Anderson, said he saw Newton after the game.
"He was all right," Anderson said.
The Panthers scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns, including scoring passes from Anderson to Greg Olsen and Corey Brown.
Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, completed 14 of 25 passes for 165 yards with one touchdown before leaving the game.
"It's unfortunate," said Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly. "I don't what the severity of it is. ... He's a fighter. He's one of the toughest guys I know. He'll get out there as soon as he can."
Robert Alford's 30-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:14 remaining clinched the win. Alford picked off another pass from Anderson to end Carolina's final possession.
The Falcons began the day leading the NFL in scoring and total offense.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 2, 2016
They were rarely stopped by Carolina, even when pinned back close to their own goal line. They scored touchdowns after beginning drives on their 2- and 1-yard lines.
Carolina has lost two straight and needs a quick recovery to avoid falling too far behind in the division.
"Our guys are going to rebound from this," Kuechly said. "I know they will. They're a resilient bunch. We take a lot of pride in what we do. We'll come out better next week."
Newton was sacked only once after being sacked eight times in last week's loss to Minnesota.
MORE ON JULIO: Jones is only the fourth player in the Super Bowl era to have at least 300 yards receiving in a game. He is the first since Detroit's Calvin Johnson had 329 yards against Dallas on Oct. 8, 2013.
MISMATCH: Panthers rookie cornerback James Bradberry was overwhelmed from the opening minute in his matchup with Jones. Ryan completed passes to Jones on Atlanta's first three plays for 22, 14 and 15 yards, showing the Falcons' plan to take advantage of a secondary still struggling to replace Josh Norman, now with Washington.
"They put the young corner on me man to man ... and Matt made some great decisions today," Jones said.
INJURIES: Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis left the game with a hamstring injury early in the second half. Wide receiver Devin Funchess left the game in the fourth quarter with a toe injury. Bradberry returned after he was taken to the locker room in the first quarter with a left toe injury.
Falcons linebackers Jones and Sean Weatherspoon sustained calf injuries.
There was little production to be found in Carolina's running game , as Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) did not play. Cameron Artis-Payne ran for 12 yards on five carries. Fozzy Whittaker had three carries for only six yards but led the Panthers with nine catches for 86 yards.
Atlanta's Devonta Freeman ran for 57 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries as he took the lead in the tandem with Tevin Coleman, who ran for 19 yards on eight carries.
Carolina: The Panthers will face another division opponent when they return home to face Tampa Bay next Monday night.
Atlanta: The Falcons open a stretch of three straight games against AFC teams when they visit Denver next week.