Your Atlanta Falcons are now 3-1 and remain on top of the NFC South. The Falcons continued to actually look like a good football team as they beat the Carolina Panthers in the Georgia Dome with a final score of 48-33.
The Falcons actually got pressure on Cam Newton, and while Carolina’s offensive line is depleted by injury and hasn’t been stellar this season, it had as much to do with the Falcons’ secondary maintaining coverage and giving the pass rush time to get home.
On offense, Julio Jones had an absolutely ludicrous day, finishing with 12 catches for 300 (!!!) yards and a touchdown.
Atlanta’s defense got under Cam Newton’s skin early, and he got called for taunting on Carolina’s first offensive series.
The Falcons got Julio Jones involved right off the bat, going to him on the first three offensive plays of the game for 22, 15 and 14 yards, respectively. The Falcons struck first, with Ryan hitting Jacob Tamme in the end zone to take a 7-0 lead.
The defense got the Panthers off the field, and Atlanta took over on their own 2-yard line. The Falcons drove 98 yards in 3:33, a drive that culminated in a 13- yard Devonta Freeman touchdown run. The Falcons led 14-0 going into the second quarter.
But then, something happened -- something Falcons fans are all too familiar with. After Atlanta’s defense got the Panthers off the field, Matt Ryan threw an interception, and Carolina safety Kurt Coleman walked it into the end zone, cutting the Falcons’ lead to 14-7.
The Falcons and Panthers traded field goals, and then they traded punts, and the score was 17-10 heading into the half.
The Falcons opened it up after the half. On a play action bootleg, Ryan hit an embarrassingly wide open Austin Hooper for Hooper’s first NFL touchdown. Atlanta scored on its next possession, too, on a Matt Ryan pass to Aldrick Robinson for 35 yards.
The defense held firm throughout the third, keeping the Panthers out of the end zone. Atlanta led 31-10 going into the fourth quarter.
Of course, we’re talking about the Falcons, and they can’t just make it easy on fans to sit back and enjoy a game.
Atlanta opened the fourth quarter with a field goal -- a 53-yard attempt by Matt Bryant that sailed right through the uprights, extending the Falcons’ lead to 34-10.
A big return by the Panthers’ Ted Ginn, Jr., gave Carolina great field position, and Newton was dealing on the next possession. Newton got it to Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone to make it a 34-16 game, and then Newton walked in the two-point conversion to make it 34-18.
Newton took a hard hit to the head from Deion Jones as he attempted to stroll into the end zone for the two-point conversion. He left the game to be evaluated for a concussion.
The Falcons went three-and-out, and Derek Anderson took over under center for the Panthers. He led a 93-yard drive that resulted in a Greg Olsen touchdown and another successful two-point conversion, this time to Greg Olsen. Atlanta’s lead was dwindling, and with just under four minutes to play, the Falcons held onto an eight-point advantage.
Falcons fans were panicking. This team has no killer instinct, they said. Same old Falcons, they said. So Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones, and Jones ran it 75 yards into the end zone to extend Atlanta’s lead to 41-26. At this point, Jones was at 300 receiving yards, which is, quite frankly, completely insane.
The Falcons' defense let the Panthers march down the field, with Anderson leading a 75-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. The score sat at 41-33 with just under two minutes to play.
Atlanta punted, and the Panthers seemed poised to take it over. One touchdown and a two-point conversion would send it to overtime, and while that would also give Matt Ryan and Julio Jones an opportunity to set NFL records, it was a reason for concern considering how poorly the Falcons' defense had managed to play against Derek Anderson.
Robert Alford saved the day, picking off an Anderson pass and running it back for a touchdown, giving the Falcons a 48-33 lead with 1:14 left to play.
The Panthers took over again, but another Alford interception got the Falcons the ball back, and Atlanta assumed the victory formation. Falcons win!