Falcons tame Panthers, claim NFC South lead


After getting a much needed win against Tamp Bay last week, the Falcons looked to make it two consecutive wins as they took on the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. And while the Panthers were able to rally 13 points down in the fourth quarter, the Falcons were able to hold on for the 19-17 win and they now are in first place in the NFC South with a 4-6 record.

The Falcons looked as if they were going to run away with the game, leading 16-3 going into the fourth quarter. But a fight sparked by the Panthers changed the momentum and they turned things around with two touchdown passes by Cam Newton. The first Newton touchdown pass come with nine minutes left in the game when he found Kelvin Benjamin for a 22-yard score. The second came on their next series when Newton found Philly Brown for a 47-yard score.

On the ensuing series, the Falcons put together a 12-play drive that ended with a Matt Bryant 44-yard kick with 2:08 left. That gave the Panthers more than enough time to take the lead and seal the victory, but Graham Gano missed the 46-yard field goal with 1:26 left.

The Falcons went three-and-out after that and punted the ball away with 28 seconds left. That gave the Panthers 22 seconds to get in field goal range with no timeouts. They were able to get to the Falcons 45-yard line with one second left and Gano attempted the 63-yard field goal. But Ra’Shede Hageman blocked the kick and the Falcons held on for the win.

The Falcons were outgained by the Panthers (391-346), but most of those yards came in the fourth quarter. Thanks to a steady hand by Matt Ryan who threw for 268 yards and one touchdown. The Falcons offense was able to be efficient in the second and third quarter. Those two quarters is where the Falcons scored 16 of their 19 points including a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Roddy White.

The Falcons defense was also strong in the win. They forced Newton to throw two interceptions, allowed Carolina to only convert three third downs and notched two sacks. Desmond Tufant and Kemal Ishmael got the interceptions while Paul Worrilow and Dezmen Southward got the sacks.

The win not only improved the Falcons record to 4-6, they are now 4-0 in NFC South play and they have won two consecutive outdoor road games after not winning an outdoor road game since December 2012. The Falcons are tied with the New Orleans Saints for the NFC South lead, but they win the tiebreaker because they won the head-to-head battle at the beginning for the season. The Falcons will look to make it three wins in a row when they face the Cleveland Browns at the Georgia Dome next Sunday at 1 p.m.

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