The Panthers needed to get the curse of the Falcons off their backs today after losing the past five meetings against their hated division rival, and going down 7-0 in the first quarter was not a good start to their afternoon. The Panthers tightened up the ship, however, and managed to come back and take the lead after a strong second quarter where they scored 20 unanswered points to lead 20-7 at halftime.
The Falcons made a game out of it in the third quarter and managed to pull to within a touchdown, but the Panthers shaped up in the fourth quarter after a huge Juston Burris interception of Matt Ryan in the end zone dashed Atlanta’s hopes of a comeback. The Panthers drove down the field on offense to run out the clock and managed to tack on three more points at the end to extend their lead to an unreachable level. The Falcons made a desperation field goal and tried an onside kick with 0:04 left, but the Panthers recovered it to pick up their third straight win of the season and move their record above .500 for the first time since November 2019.
This was a solid effort on both sides of the ball by the Panthers, and it feels good to see them have a winning record when they probably shouldn’t have one. It’s also good to see them finally beat the Falcons in Atlanta, something they haven’t been able to do since 2014. The Panthers should be proud of themselves for winning this game. They faced some adversity in the first quarter but dealt with it and didn’t let the Falcons back in it once they built a lead. That’s something to build on for a young team, and hopefully they take that momentum into Week 6 when they face the Bears at home.
Fourth quarter: Panthers 23 - Falcons 16
The Falcons should have scored a touchdown but Hayden Hurst misjudged where the ball was going and elected to jump for a pass instead of running through it. It would have been an easy touchdown but the Panthers end up getting lucky that the Falcons decided to settle for a field goal to cut the deficit to a touchdown. A 31-yard field goal made it 20-13 Panthers with 14:48 left in the game.
The Panthers responded with a three-and-out and had to punt the ball back to the Falcons offense. The Falcons torched the Panthers secondary on the first play when Matt Ryan found Calvin Ridley wide open at midfield. They were in field goal range two plays later thanks to Brian Hill’s running ability. The Falcons continued driving into the red zone, but then the defense responded with a Juston Burris interception in the end zone to deny the Falcons the chance to tie the game.
The Panthers offense did a good job running the clock down as they moved down the field to try and put the game out of reach. Mike Davis bullied his way through the defense to pick up several key first downs on the drive, and the Panthers forced the Falcons to start using their timeouts to preserve time. The Panthers forced Atlanta to use all three of their timeouts with 3:02 left in the game and had a first-and-goal situation where they could put a final stamp on the game. Joey Slye tacked on a field goal with a minute to go to put the final nail in the Falcons’ (and likely Dan Quinn’s) coffin.
The Falcons made a desperation field goal to pull within a touchdown, but the Panthers were able to recover the onside kick with 0:04 left to seal the game.
Third quarter: Panthers 20 - Falcons 10
The Panthers started the second half on defense. Cornerback Donte Jackson was ruled out for the rest of the game as he continues to battle a turf toe injury that has bothered him for several weeks. Defensive end Brian Burns was also ruled out with a concussion.
The Panthers started the half with an encroachment penalty on Derrick Brown, which was not an ideal start. Todd Gurley started to look like his old self again with back-to-back solid runs, and the defense looked like they had no intention of stopping him. The defense buckled down and forced the Panthers to try a field goal, which was successful as it cut the Panthers’ lead to 20-10 with 12:19 left in the quarter.
The offense took the ball and drove down the field well but again stalled at midfield and had to punt the ball back to the Falcons. The Falcons defense has played well on third down (or the Panthers have played poorly, either way) but they couldn’t score before the quarter ended.
Second quarter: Panthers 20 - Falcons 7
The Panthers defense did a good job at forcing the Falcons to punt and keep the deficit to four points. The offense did their part as Bridgewater and Anderson finally found each other on two solid gains (including an insane one-handed catch by Anderson for 29 yards). The offense stalled near the red zone again and had to settle for another field goal from Joey Slye to pull to within one point of the Falcons in a 7-6 game with 9:06 left in the quarter.
Brian Burns forced Matt Ryan to fumble before he could throw, but Juston Burris tried to scoop and score instead of diving on the ball and it allowed the Falcons to recover and maintain possession. Fortunately, the defense was able to get a stop on the next play to force the Falcons to punt. Brian Burns was shaken up on the play and walked off the field slowly.
The offense made the Falcons pay by driving down the field and scoring a touchdown to take the lead. Bridgewater found DJ Moore for a quick strike on third-and-four that turned into a 57-yard dash to the end zone to give the Panthers a 13-7 lead with 2:30 left in the half.
The defense did a good job forcing the Falcons into a three-and-out on their following drive to protect their lead. The front four started to finally get some pressure on Matt Ryan, and it showed as Ryan threw two straight incomplete passes and was sacked on third down to force the punt.
The offense looked good in the two-minute drill and drove straight down the field to extend their lead on a Mike Davis touchdown reception on second-and-goal. The extra point was good to make the Panthers lead 20-7 with 0:23 left in the half.
The Falcons took a knee to end the half down 20-7.
First quarter: Panthers 3 - Falcons 7
The Panthers started on offense after the Falcons won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The offense started out well and picked up a few first downs, but stalled at midfield and had to punt.
The defense struggled on their first drive as the Falcons picked them apart en route to a touchdown to take an early lead of 7-0 with 8:17 left in the quarter. In other bad news, Donte Jackson was ruled questionable to return with a toe injury. It’s an injury he’s been battling for a few weeks now.
The Panthers offense did a decent job driving down the field, but stalled just outside the red zone and had to settle for a field goal to cut the Falcons lead to four at 7-3 with 0:57 left in the quarter.
Game day information
What: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
When: Sunday, October 11 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, Ga.)
TV: FOX; Chris Myers, Brock Huard (coverage map)
Streaming: FuboTV, FOX Sports Live (tv login req.), Yahoo! Sports, Panthers mobile app
Radio: Panthers radio (local); Mick Mixon
Spanish Radio: Panthers radio (local); Jaime Moreno, Antonio Ramos
Weather: 74° / Rain / 10 mph S wind / 70% rain (complete forecast)
Note: The weather will not effect the game because Mercedes-Benz Stadium has a retractable roof.
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