The Atlanta Falcons started off today’s perfect football weather day on the road by deferring. Things went downhill quickly from with Taylor Heinicke manufacturing a stout march down the field mainly through Christian McCaffrey. It was another exercise in incompetence as Marquand Manuel’s defense as a Desmond Trufant pass interference flag on third-and-goal resulted in another set of downs and a touchdown pass to Ian Thomas.
The Falcons bounced back from poor field position to push into Panthers territory, highlighted by Mohamed Sanu’s wild cat run for 24 yards. The offense moved pretty well into the red zone with a Julio Jones touchdown at the 1. Atlanta converted all four third-downs.
Heinicke had to toss the ball deep to keep the next drive going and failed pretty miserably. If the Falcons win then Heinicke should get the game ball. The Falcons were fine mirroring the Panthers and quickly go 3-and-out. Both teams are essentially shadowboxing after back-to-back fumble recoveries. Deion Jones forced a turnover in the red zone scooped by Brian Poole. Brian Poole gives up pressure to Kyle Love on the very next play and Matt Ryan coughs up the ball.
Seriously, no one wants to win this one. Grady Jarrett gets pressure and a sack on Heinicke with about 10 minutes left in the half. Heinicke goes out pushing Kyle Allen in at quarterback.
The Panthers were still in good field position and kick a field goal, pushing their lead to 10-7. The Falcons answer back, with a beautiful 32-yard catch by Austin Hooper before Calvin Ridley drops a catch near the end zone on third down. Matt Bryant kicks through a field goal tying the game.
Kyle Allen puts together a few good passes before he’s replaced by Taylor Heinicke. Damontae Kazee tips a pass right into Jack Crawford’s hands. Can the Falcons capitalize? No, of course not. This is still a 5-win team. Ryan hits Hooper short of the sticks on third down and the Falcons punt on 4th-and-1. The Panthers have a chance to answer back but ultimately run out of time.
The game is tied but so far it is hard to be too optimistic with the Panthers clearly missing so many key pieces.