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    ATLANTA -- Carolinas blueprint for playoff success has been set: Let the sack-happy defence lead the way and hope dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton can add just enough offence. Cheap Houston Texans Jerseys . Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team-record four sacks and the Panthers clinched their first NFC South title in five years by beating the Atlanta Falcons 21-20 on Sunday. "Now we can cross that goal off," said linebacker Luke Kuechly. "Now we can concentrate, get guys healthy and get ready to go." Making their first trip to the playoffs since 2008, the Panthers (12-4) secured a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one game as the No. 2 seed in the NFC. "Feels outstanding," said Carolina coach Ron Rivera. "Our guys fought all season and did the things we needed to do." Newton said it was important to earn the bye in the playoffs. Wide receiver Steve Smith and running back Jonathan Stewart were inactive with knee injuries. "Weve got a lot of guys that we need back that play an intricate role in making this team go," Newton said. Carolina needed losses by Seattle and Arizona to move up to the No. 1 seed, but the Seahawks beat the Rams 27-9 to secure the top seed. Carolina set a team record by sacking Matt Ryan nine times. The defence also produced the Panthers first touchdown on Melvin Whites 7-yard interception return in the second quarter. "Its about the team," Hardy said when asked about his record. "I know we got the team record and thats all that matters." Hardy said "consistent pressure from everybody" led to the deluge of sacks. Charles Johnson had two, Mike Mitchell, Frank Alexander and Star Lotulelei each added one. Kuechly had a team-leading 10 tackles. Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had four catches for 56 yards and was honoured at halftime in his final regular-season game. He has announced plans for retirement. Gonzalez said his farewell game "was great." "Honestly, it went exactly as I thought it would go except for the winning part," Gonzalez said. "We werent able to pull it out. ... My career has turned out to be something more than I ever thought and more than I ever dreamed." Atlanta players spoke during the week about wanting to send Gonzalez out with a win. "They came out with a lot of emotion, they played very hard, they played for one of their leaders today, for Tony today," Rivera said. The Falcons led 10-0 early in the second quarter. Newton recovered from a sluggish start to complete 15 of 27 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Newton threw scoring passes to Ted Ginn Jr. and Greg Olsen and led the Panthers with 72 yards rushing. The Falcons (4-12) completed their crushing fall from a 13-3 finish and division title in 2012. Ryan hit 28 of 40 passes for 280 yards with one interception and touchdown passes to Jason Snelling and Roddy White. Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 42 and 37 yards, but the Falcons couldnt overcome the nine sacks. "It was tough, theres no doubt about it," Ryan said. "It was a good defence that we were going against and a really good front seven and we made some mistakes. I made some mistakes, too, so some of that was on me. We have to be better than that." On Carolinas first possession of the second quarter, Newtons high pass glanced off Domenik Hixons hands. Safety William Moore made a diving interception to set up Bryants first field goal. After trailing 10-0, the Panthers dominated the remainder of the half and had the better end of an exchange of turnovers. DeAngelo Williams cut through the line for a 56-yard run but fumbled when hit by Robert Alford. Desmond Trufant recovered at the Atlanta 4. The turnover only set up a giveaway by the Falcons. Melvin White stepped in front of Harry Douglas for an interception and touchdown return. A fumbled snap on Atlantas final possession hurt the Falcons hopes for a last-minute scoring drive. Center Joe Hawley snapped the ball as Ryan was at the line, pointing at the Panthers defence and calling the play. "It was just a miscommunication and it wasnt the right time to not be on the same page," Ryan said. NOTES: Paid attendance was 70,427 but there were empty seats throughout the Georgia Dome and a large turnout by Carolina fans. ... Smith sprained his left knee during Carolinas 17-13 win over New Orleans last week and was on the field for pregame warmups. Rivera said Friday he expects Smith to be ready for the playoffs. ... LB Sean Weatherspoon (knee) and RB Jacquizz Rodgers (concussion) were inactive for Atlanta. ... Carolinas record for sacks in a game was 3 1/2 by Johnson at Atlanta on Sept. 30, 2012.Cheap Texans Jerseys Authentic . Theres little time for rest, too. The Flyers and Rangers play again Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Simmonds scored in the first period and twice more in the second for his first career post-season hat trick. Mason survived a busy first period and stopping 31 straight shots until Carl Hagelin scored late in the third. Cheap Texans Jerseys China . Power had a two-lap average of 218.896 mph in qualifying Friday at the high-banked, high-speed 1 1/2-mile track for his 34th career pole.KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- At any age, Jeff Gordon sure knows how to win. Nearly two decades after he burst onto the scene with his first victory, Gordon keeps taking checkered flags, storming to the lead in the final laps at Kansas Speedway on Saturday night for his first victory of the season and 89th overall in NASCARs top series. The 42-year-old Gordon held off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick on the final lap to move into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field. Gordon won for the first time since October at Martinsville and became the ninth driver to win in the first 11 races this season. He entered the race with the points lead, but exclaimed a weight was lifted off his shoulders as he crossed the finish line for his third Kansas victory. "Im just so proud of (the 24 team). They have been giving me the best race cars all year long," Gordon said. "I have been having so much fun. Im going to be 43 this year and I feel like Im 25 again. That is the way they make me feel." Kasey Kahne was third, followed by Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Danica Patrick was seventh for her best career Cup finish. Gordon built his points lead on the strength of four top-fives and seven top-10s in the first 10 races -- including second-place finishes at Texas and Richmond -- but he knew how much one win would ease pressure on his Hendrick Motorsports team. He got it under the lights at Kansas. "This is so sweet," he said. "What a huge weight lifted off this teams shoulders. We needed to get to Victory Lane." Gordon is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first career Cup victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the prestigious Coca-Cola 600. He will go for his fourth Coca-Cola 600 victory May 25. At Daytona this year, Gordon insisted he was serious about considering retirement with a fifth championship. He looks every bit a title contender -- but said he feels like he could race until 50 if his cars are this stout. "The whole retirement thing I think is thrown out too much," he said. "I know Im somewhat to blame for that." After the start of the race was delayed 35 minutes by rain, the first Sprint Cup night race at Kansas soon left drivers in the dark after the lights went out on the backstretch. NASCAR polled drivers if they wanted to continue and they were good to go, with Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards among the many who said thhe track was bright enough to race. Cheap Duane Brown Jersey. Harvick led the final 36 laps in his October win and led the first 41 on Saturday before briefly falling into the middle of the pack. Harvick worked his way to the front in the No. 4 Chevrolet and opened a commanding lead over Gordon and Logano. He led a race-high 119 laps in the 400-mile race -- small consolation once Gordon grabbed the lead with eight to go. With two wins already, Harvick has been a force in his first season at Stewart-Haas Racing, but his dominant Chevrolet ran out of gas on his last pit stop and lost time that he couldnt recover. "I should have been paying attention to my pit road lights and should have got off pit road better," he said. "I made a mistake at the end and it cost us a chance to stay out in front of the 24." Patrick had her best run of the season, spending most of the race nestled inside the top 10, and brought a needed jolt of electricity when she passed teammate Tony Stewart and Earnhardt to move into third with 95 laps left. Patrick hadnt finished better this season than 14th at Fontana and her lone top-10 in the Cup series was an eighth-place finish in the 2013 Daytona 500. She was shuffled back on a restart, costing her a top five. Patrick beamed in the garage after the kind of finish shed been striving for since her dazzling performance at Daytona more than a year ago. Crew chief Tony Gibson told her, "Chicks rule, huh?" "I know that we havent had the best of times, but we work hard for it," Patrick said. "This is the kind of stuff that materializes in wins. Weve just got to keep hanging around and doing what were doing. Im just proud of everyone for working really hard and believing in me." Sara Christians fifth-place finish in a 1949 race remains the best for a female driver in NASCARs top series. Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland both had their cars erupt in flames in separate accidents. Gilliland was slow to exit his No. 38 Ford and gingerly walked away from the smouldering wreckage. He was checked out and released from the infield care centre. "It was the hardest hit Ive had in a long time," he said. McMurray had a solid run derailed when he smacked the wall and the back of his No. 1 Chevrolet caught fire. "I heard a small pop, and then just lost all the steering and got into the fence," he said. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys Cheap Jerseys ' ' '