First-half observations: Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- First-half observations as Carolina Panthers lead the Atlanta Falcons, 14-10:

Flag football: The Panthers got a couple of breaks thanks to Atlanta penalties. The first was a pass interference in the first quarter that set up Mike Tolbert's 4-yard touchdown run for Carolina. The second was a holding early in the second quarter that took away a 2-yard touchdown run by Atlanta running back Steven Jackson.

Riverboat Rivera: Coach Ron Rivera continued to be aggressive on fourth-down calls. He went for it for the seventh time since not going for it at the end of the Buffalo game in Week 2, a play he said philosophically changed his thought process. Once again he was rewarded. Quarterback Cam Newton rolled to his right and found tight end Greg Olsen wide open for a 14-yard touchdown, the fifth successful play during this streak.

Halftime adjustment needed: The Panthers triple-teamed tight end Tony Gonzalez early and came away with an interception by middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Then it was almost like they forgot to cover the future Hall of Famer. He caught five passes for 77 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown with 1:55 left to let Atlanta get back in this one.