Two weeks in a row, two wins in a row. The Falcons continued to roll over their NFC South foes with a strong showing in Carolina — another game where they did not allow a touchdown.
Let’s dive into this week’s Hat Tips & Head-Scratchers.
Takk McKinley’s pressure, De’Vondre Campbell’s pick
For the second straight week the Atlanta Falcons defense came to play. The changes made prior to and during the bye week are currently paying dividends, and the unit got things going at the outset.
On third down of the Panthers’ first offensive series, Falcons’ defensive end Takkarist McKinley used his speed and a bit of a stutter-step move to beat Carolina right tackle Taylor Moton and apply some extreme pressure on quarterback Kyle Allen.
The result? An errant throw and an acrobatic interception by linebacker De’Vondre Campbell. The play laid the groundwork for the coming turnover deluge that would doom the Carolina Panthers.
Kenjon Barner’s punt return for a touchdown
On the topic of tone-setting, how about Kenjon Barner’s 78-yard punt return touchdown? It feels like eons since the Falcons have brought one back, but Barner secured Matt Palardy’s kick, weaved through traffic, and followed his blockers all the way to the end zone to put Atlanta up 10-0 early.
Qadree Ollison’s first career carry for a touchdown
Atlanta rookie running back Qadree Ollison has been inactive for the majority of the year, and a week after first being declared eligible to play, Ollison received his first carry — and it went for six.
After Julio Jones reeled in Matt Ryan’s towering 49-yard pass, the Falcons offense lined up on the Panthers’ two-yard-line. Ollison received the hand-off from Ryan and powered his way across the goal line for the score.
First carry, first touchdown, no problem.
Matt Ryan’s bomb to Julio Jones
Matt Ryan’s made some impressive throws throughout his career, and this one ranks right up there. Late in the second quarter and the Falcons facing a 3rd-and-16, Ryan aired one out while under pressure from the Panthers’ defensive front. He absolutely dropped it in the bucket for the 49-yard completion, aided by an over-the-shoulder basket catch by Julio Jones in between two defenders (bonus points for getting the best of Luke Keuchly once more).
A stellar example of what Matt Ryan is capable of.
Defense, defense, defense
The Atlanta defense has carried this team to two straight divisional wins, and has yet to allow a touchdown since the bye week. The production has been unreal, and there was more of the same yesterday in the form of five sacks and four picks. Absolute insanity.
Jamon Brown’s penalties
Offensive guard Jamon Brown signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract prior to the 2019 NFL season, making him one of the Falcons’ largest free agent additions — physically and financially. So far the investment is not translating to an upgrade along the O-line, but it has led to an increase in dumb penalties at important moments.
Brown was flagged for holding on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter, the first of which negated a touchdown from running back Brian Hill. The offense would eventually settle for another Younghoe Koo field goal.
Had the Falcons not been up 26-3 at this point, Brown’s holding penalty that nullified points could have proven a pivotal moment in the game.