CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton let teammate Greg Hardy handle the trash talk. Newton was busy setting records.
Four days after Carolina defensive end Hardy promised "payback" and "punishment" for the Falcons over a loss at Atlanta in September, Newton threw for 287 yards and scored on a 72-yard run in a 30-20 victory.
Despite playing without four starters and having 13 players on injured reserve, the struggling Panthers dominated the NFC South champions, just as Hardy said they would. Newton piled up a career-high 116 yards on the ground to become the first player with 250 yards passing, 100 yards rushing, a touchdown run and a TD pass in a game.
The Panthers racked up 475 yards overall, avenging that Week 4 loss to Atlanta and snapping a five-game losing streak to their Interstate 85 rivals.
Hardy was upset when television cameras caught Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan cursing at the Panthers sideline, telling them to get off the Falcons' field in Atlanta's 30-28 win. Hardy responded by saying last week the Panthers were a "better team" than the Falcons, adding a variety of trash talk.
After Sunday's win Hardy turned the tables on the Falcons (11-2), repeating several times what Ryan said 10 weeks ago as he walked off the field. At one point Falcons kicker Matt Bryant returned fire at Hardy, saying, "Watch us in January."
Hardy left the locker room before reporters were allowed in.
It was Newton's first victory in four tries over his hometown team and he admitted after the game it was a special feeling.
"I think this game allows me to have a little chip on my shoulder," Newton said.
Carolina's defense was superb through 2½ quarters, helping build a 23-0 lead and a 356-86 edge in total yards.
Carolina (4-9) came in with little to play for except to gain that measure of revenge on Ryan, who downplayed the war of words.