The Atlanta Falcons will finish at least .500 this season under Dan Quinn, and the Panthers are no longer undefeated. In arguably the best game of the year and inarguably the biggest win, Atlanta stole one from Carolina at home, and we all enjoyed it tremendously.
Our quick recap, below.
The Falcons, as is their tradition, won the toss and deferred. The Panthers promptly marched down the field, and Cam Newton walked the ball into the end zone to cap off an 80-yard, 5:42 drive.
Atlanta took over at their own 20 after a touchback, and proceeded to actually move the ball. Their first set of downs would have resulted in a three and out, but an unnecessary roughness flag on some post-whistle action from Charles Tillman gave the Falcons a first down on their own 30.
The last play of the drive was a Matt Ryan scramble for the ages. Ryan looked to be a little shaken up on the the play, a seven-yard scramble that put the Falcons on the Panthers 4-yard line to end the quarter.
With a first down and four to go for a score, Devonta Freeman carried the ball into the end zone on the first play of the second quarter. It was a 16-play, 80-yard drive that took 9:23 off the clock. The Falcons defense forced a punt, and when the Falcons took over, the Panthers defense forced Atlanta to punt. With the scored still tied, a fair catch by Ted Ginn, Jr. gave the Panthers the ball on their own 15-yard line.
Despite a couple of Carolina penalties, the Panthers moved the ball to the Atlanta 21-yard line. Then, miracle of miracles, a tandem sack by Jonathan Babineaux and Kroy Biermann on second down pushed the Panthers out of field goal range, and a near-interception by Phillip Adams on third down forced a Panthers punt, and Carolina downed it at the Falcons' one-yard line. The Falcons did get a first down on an 11-yard completion to Julio Jones, but that was about all they could accomplish before time expired on the half.
Since the Falcons deferred to start the game, they received to start the second half, and this was the drive that started to make Atlanta fans anxious. The Falcons moved the ball down the field effectively, but had to settle for a field goal in the red zone, and Shayne Graham's attempt was no good. The Panthers answered by marching down the field and tacking on a field goal of their own, establishing a 10-7 lead over the Falcons.
And then magic happened.
You know how everyone has wanted to see Ryan throw deep jump balls to Julio Jones because Jones is pretty good? Well, Ryan did exactly that on Atlanta's next possession. Luke Kuechly had the misfortune to be matched up in coverage with Julio, and Jones snatched the ball out of the air and took it for a touchdown. It was a 70-yard play, and it gave the Falcons a 14-10 lead.
Magic! The Falcons got a field goal, held the Panthers to a field goal, got another field goal, and capped the game with a miraculous defensive stop on a Vic Beasley sack and Adrian Clayborn fumble recovery that earned the win. I'd go into more detail, but I'm too busy celebrating.