San Francisco, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - In a battle between two playoff contenders, defense prevailed as the Carolina Panthers edged out a 10-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
The two teams combined for just 401 total yards and went just 9-for-30 on third down attempts, with the 49ers a paltry 2-for-13. There was also a total of 10 sacks in the game, six for Carolina, and each team had two turnovers.
DeAngelo Williams' touchdown run late in the first half was the only time either team found the end zone, and it helped the Panthers (6-3) win their fifth straight game.
"There were a lot of good things that went on in this game today," said Carolina head coach Ron Rivera. "The defense did step up and play really well and I thought some of the things we did offensively, especially when we had good field position, were really good."
Frank Gore carried the ball 16 times for 82 yards, and added two catches for 21 yards for the 49ers (6-3), who had a five-game winning streak snapped.
San Francisco is now three wins back of Seattle for first place in the NFC West.
"We had our chances and opportunities in the game and we just didn't get it done," said San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh. "We played with great effort, especially the defense. But Carolina made more plays and in the end that won it for them."
Neither quarterback fared well under center, as Cam Newton went just 16-for-32 with 169 yards and an interception for Carolina, while Colin Kaepernick was 11-for-22 for just 91 yards and an interception for San Francisco.
Graham Gano missed a 48-yard field goal try with 3:41 left in the third quarter, but Kendall Hunter fumbled a carry on San Francisco's ensuing possession.
An exchange of punts saw the Panthers start with excellent field position as Ted Ginn returned one 25 yards to the San Francisco 44.
The Panthers only managed to gain nine yards, but it was enough for Gano to boot a 53-yard field goal for a 10-9 lead with 10:05 to play.
San Francisco then went three-and-out, but then forced another punt from Carolina, which pinned San Francisco at its own 1.
The Niners converted a first down to get some breathing room, but a sack handcuffed the drive and forced another Andy Lee punt.
Carolina converted a third down on its possession before having to punt with the Niners getting the ball back at their own 20 with 1:02 to play.
On the second play, though, Kaepernick went deep for Mario Manningham and Drayton Florence picked off the pass to seal the win for the Panthers.
The 49ers started the game with the ball and got runs of 11 and 17 yards from Gore. The drive stalled at the Carolina 34, but Phil Dawson booted a 52-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead just over four minutes in.
San Francisco caught a break later in the first quarter as a Lee punt was partially blocked, but the rolling ball touched a Carolina player and San Francisco got the ball back at the Carolina 41.
After an 11-yard catch by Gore, the Niners were only able to gain five more yards, but Dawson connected from 43 yards out for a 6-0 lead with 13:34 to play in the first half.
Later in the second quarter, Newton had a deep pass picked off by Tramaine Brock, who took it to the Carolina 24.
The Panthers defense, though, held up and San Francisco came away with another field goal from Dawson, this one from 25 yards out, for a 9-0 lead with 6:16 to play in the half.
Carolina was finally able to put together a successful drive, as the team marched 80 yards in eight plays. The drive was capped when Williams took a handoff between the tackles, skirted out to the left and broke a pair of tackles for a 27-yard score to make it a 9-7 game with 1:52 left in the half.
San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis left the game in the second quarter with a concussion ... Williams led the Carolina backfield, which totaled 111 yards on 30 carries, with eight carries for 46 yards ... Manningham caught three passes for 30 yards ... Carolina controlled the ball for just over 32 minutes, and had 250 yards ... The Panthers host the Patriots next Monday ... San Francisco plays at New Orleans next Sunday ... Carolina has won four straight against San Francisco.