B QUARTERBACK : With the defense outscoring Atlanta 14-3, Cam Newton didn’t have to carry the load. Newton completed 10 of 16 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, but only attempted four passes in the second half. Newton was the game’s leading rusher, with six carries for 51 yards and a TD.
B RUNNING BACKS : You could make a strong case for Jonathan Stewart as the Panthers’ offensive MVP over the second half of the season. Stewart continued his tough running (13 carries for 49 yards) while DeAngelo Williams missed his fourth game in a row with a hand injury. Fozzy Whittaker averaged 5.9 yards on seven carries late in the game.
C RECEIVERS : Rookie Kelvin Benjamin had a pair of drops, including one on a deep pass that Newton delivered right on his hip. Benjamin had a season-low one catch for 9 yards, but he and TE Greg Olsen became the first Panthers’ tandem to surpass 1,000 yards in the same season since 1999.
B OFFENSIVE LINE : The line includes one Pro Bowler, one rookie and three undrafted players. But the group’s consistency helped key Panthers’ four-game winning streak. Newton was sacked only once against the Falcons, for a loss of 2 yards.
A DEFENSIVE LINE : Defensive tackle Star Lotuelelei broke through with his best game of the season. The second-year lineman had seven tackles, including his first two sacks of the season, and a total of three hits on Matt Ryan. Four other linemen contributed at least half a sack.
A LINEBACKERS : Luke Kuechly finished with a game-high eight tackles, and blew up the Falcons’ check-down passes early with two pass breakups. Rookie Adarius Glanton forced a fumble that Thomas Davis picked up and returned 33 yards. Davis had a pick-six negated by his illegal contact.
A DEFENSIVE BACKS : Safeties Roman Harper and Tre Boston both had interception returns for touchdowns – the first time the Panthers had two defensive scores in a game in their history. Cornerback Josh Norman again held Pro Bowl wideout Julio Jones (four catches for 58 yards) in check.
B SPECIAL TEAMS : Falcons return specialist Devin Hester got loose for a 66-yard kickoff return to set up Atlanta’s only score. Otherwise, the Panthers didn’t give Hester many chances. Brad Nortman averaged 48.3 yards on three punts, including a career-tying 72-yarder.
B COACHING : Ron Rivera never lost faith in his team, and that confidence was rewarded by the way the Panthers played over the final month of the season. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott could be a candidate for a couple of head-coaching vacancies, given how his defense performed the final six regular-season games.