The Falcons just squashed any real hopes of a Carolina comeback, scoring on a 3-yard run by Michael Turner to extend its lead to 24-7 with 4:41 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers, down 17-7, had gotten the ball to the Atlanta 38 after Jonathan Stewart (11 carries, 114 yards so far) ripped off a 42-yard run. But then Steve Smith dropped a low throw from Jimmy Clausen that could have gotten a first down. Coach John Fox elected to go for it on fourth-and-4 from the Falcons 38 -- it would have been a 56-yard field goal for John Kasay -- and Clausen took a sack for a loss of 13.
That gave Atlanta great field position, and the Falcons only needed 5 plays to traverse 49 yards for the TD -- three of them passes to Pro Bowl wide receiver Roddy White.