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Falcons 33 - Panthers 16 final score: Atlanta is ready for the postseason

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Atlanta largely dominated on the road, earning their 10th win and (very likely) a playoff berth.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The last time the Falcons visited Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers, it didn’t go so great for Atlanta. Carolina shut out the Falcons, winning in humiliating fashion with a final score of 38-0. Today’s game in Carolina went very differently for the Falcons.

Atlanta looked dominant offensively throughout, and Matt Ryan was nearly flawless. The Falcons walk away with a 33-16 victory. Here’s our quarter-by-quarter recap.

First Quarter

Atlanta elected to receive, and wasted little time getting moving. With Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman rolling, they were able to get within 26 yards, at which point Matt Ryan tossed a bomb to Josh Perkins, who hauled it in for the touchdown. The Falcons were up 7-0 immediately.

The Panthers looked promising at the start of their next drive, with a good kickoff return and some early movement, but Cam Newton destroyed that momentum by tossing an interception to Brian Poole, who is still having a magnificent rookie season.

The next drive stalled out thanks in large part to an ugly unnecessary roughness penalty (albeit maybe not a justified one), and the Falcons were forced to kick a long field goal, which Matt Bryant hit. That gave them an early 10-0 lead.

The Panthers followed that up by getting to 4th and 1 and electing to punt, and the Falcons were able to tack another field goal on the board to make it 13-0.

Second Quarter

You’ll be stunned to learn that the Panthers had to punt. At this point, Cam Newton was 1/7 for 11 yards and a pick, and the Falcons got the ball back. Unfortunately, they too had to punt after Kawann Short pulled down Matt Ryan for a sack.

The Panthers actually got moving on the next drive and were able to pull into field goal range before the offense ran out of gas. That left them with a short Graham Gano three pointer, which they converted to make the score 13-3.

The next drive was lengthy and nearly stalled out in the red zone, but instead Matt Ryan was able to find DJ Tialavea for a touchdown from one yard out, leading to a very cool moment where Tialavea celebrated like a man who had just been promoted from the practice squad and caught his first TD...which was accurate. The Falcons were now up 20-3.

The teams traded dueling non-scoring drives, and then Cam Newton threw a beyond foolish interception to Jalen Collins that set the Falcons up to score with fewer than two minutes left to go in the half. The Falcons were oddly unable to capitalize, with Matt Bryant missing an extremely short field goal to leave the score at 20-3 into halftime.

Third Quarter

Carolina got the ball to start the second half, and Newton was able to execute a 53-yard drive to put Graham Gano into position to hit a 40-yard field goal. The Panthers were helped along by a silly encroachment penalty on Robert Alford.

Unfortunately, a 46-yard pass to Julio Jones turned into a 22-yard pass after Carolina challenged the ruling that Jones was not down by contact. Still, the Falcons kept the ball moving down the field, including a 7-yard Matt Ryan scramble that was capped off by an unnecessary roughness penalty against the Falcons.

Ryan was sacked by Kony Ealy, who stripped the ball, but Devonta Freeman recovered. Matt Bryant nailed a 29-yard field goal to extend Atlanta’s lead to 23-6.

Carolina answered with its first touchdown of the day on the next drive. Newton was mostly ineffective, and had a couple of miscommunications resulting in incomplete passes, but he was able to hit Ted Ginn, Jr. for a 17-yard gain, and then a 26-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin narrowed Atlanta’s lead to 10 points.

Fourth Quarter

The fourth quarter got off to a rocky start for the Falcons’ offense, but they recovered nicely. The first possession of the last quarter started with an incomplete pass to Jones on first down. Second down brought a Matt Ryan sack, and then the Falcons were penalized on the next play for having 12 men in the huddle. Tevin Coleman saved the day.

Coleman took a pass 31 yards, then on the next play, Ryan hit Coleman for a 55-yard touchdown, extending the Falcons’ lead to 30-13.

Carolina moved the ball effectively against the Falcons’ defense, but Atlanta bent and didn’t break, forcing the Panthers to settle for a field goal.

The very next drive, the Falcons...didn’t do much. Carolina, however, took the ball over and wound up getting a sack on fourth down, giving Atlanta the ball back with a chance to score the game-sealing score. They didn’t do much, but did get close enough for Matt Bryant to nail a 50 yarder, putting the Falcons up 17 at 33-16. They would, obviously, win at that point.

The Panthers obliged by not scoring on their final drive of the game, which meant a 33-16 victory for Atlanta. Woohoo!