Falcons stumble in Charlotte


In order for the Falcons to be relevant in December, they had to have a good start and finish to the month on November. And it began on Sunday when the Falcons traveled to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers.

The Falcons trip to North Carolina was a rough one to say the least as they fell to the Panthers 34-10.

There were two reasons the Falcons got blown out by the Panthers. The first is turnovers and the Falcons committed three of them. Matt Ryan threw three interceptions in the contest, two of them led to 14 points.

Ryan’s first interception came early in the first quarter when he threw a pass intended to Tony Gonzalez, but Luke Kuechly cut right in front of Gonzalez and that led to a Mike Tolbert 4-yard touchdown run to give the Panthers the 7-0 lead.

The second interception came late in the third quarter when he threw a pass intended for Harry Douglas but the ball was tipped and Thomas Davis came down with it. That led to no points, but Ryan’s last interception did lead to seven points. Midway through the fourth quarter, Ryan threw a pass intended for Drew Davis, but Drayton Florence cut in front of Davis and scored from 38 yards out to give the Panthers the 31-10 lead.

Another reason the Falcons (2-6) lost on Sunday was the penalties. The Falcons committed seven penalties for 59 yards, two of them were pass interference calls against Desmond Trufant and two more came against the offensive line.

But the turnovers by Ryan is what did the Falcons in. In the last two games Ryan has thrown seven interceptions. In the first six games of the season, Ryan threw only three picks.

As for Ryan’s counterpart, Cam Newton, he had a modest day with 249 passing yards one touchdown, two interceptions and one rushing touchdown.

Newton’s touchdown pass came in the second quarter when he threw a 14-yard strike to Greg Olson to give Carolina the 14-3 lead. The Falcons were able to cut the lead to four right before halftime when Ryan threw a 17-yard pass to Tony Gonzalez on the ensuing series.

Newton’s rushing touchdown came at the start of the fourth quarter when he scored from eight yards out to give the Panthers the 24-10 lead. This play was right after Newton threw a pass to Brandon LaFell for 23 yards. LaFell fumbled the ball as he was heading into the end zone but was able to fall on it during the melee.

This was a game when there Panthers (5-3) dominated in the second half. Because of the surge in the fourth quarter, the Panthers outgained the Falcons in total yards, first downs, third down conversion and time of possession.

If there’s anything good for the Falcons to take from this game, it’s the defense did create turnovers as Robert Alford and Trufant each had an interception. And the defensive line, led by Jonathan Massaquoi, kept applying pressure on Newton.  Massaquoi and Osi Umenyiora each had half a sack.

The Falcons will look to snap the two-game losing streak next Sunday when they face the Seattle Seahawks. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at the Georgia Dome.

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