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Falcons vs. Panthers: Hat tips & head-scratchers

Oof.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

An abysmal showing on both sides of the ball has the Falcons again in the basement of the NFC South. Here’s the good and mostly bad from a heartburn-inducing performance against the Carolina Panthers.

Hat tips

Deion Jones forces the fumble

It feels weird to say, but linebacker Deion Jones is enjoying a bit of a renaissance season — as a free-agent-to-be, no less. While his coverage at the position hasn’t been as stout as years past, he’s proved an asset as a pass-rusher in Dean Pees’ defense. His chops in that regard were on display on the first play of the game, with Jones stripping the ball from Sam Darnold.

The Falcons would have to settle for three points, but Deion Jones did his level best to set the tone on defense early.

Cordarrelle Patterson #content

Yes, kick returner/wide receiver/running back/auto mechanic moonlighter Cordarrelle Patterson now gets the hashtag treatment. This man is simply a joy to watch play football, and if he weren’t a member of this offense I doubt the Falcons would even have three wins.

He’s been electric in every aspect of his game, and I’m certain he has a number of head coaches wondering why they couldn’t pry this level of production out of him.

Patterson’s highlight of the day came on his touchdown reception to start the second quarter, where he maneuvered through traffic and then bullied his way across the plane.

Burst, power, vision: It’s all been there for Cordarrelle Patterson this season. Unreal.

Head-scratchers

The Panthers march down the field

With 24 seconds left in the first half, the Falcons defense somehow allowed Carolina to get into field goal range from its own 27-yard-line to enter the locker room with the lead. A 21-yard pass from Sam Darnold to D.J. Moore set the whole thing up, and the Falcons entered with locker room with a meager one-point lead.

It wouldn’t last.

Matt Ryan makes two sketchy decisions

It was pretty apparent from the outset that the Atlanta Falcons offense was not in sync. The late announcement of wide receiver Calvin Ridley on the inactive list certainly factored into that, but quarterback Matt Ryan has certainly dealt with a number of zero-hour curveballs in his NFL career.

Matt Ryan has had a pretty stellar season so far under Arthur Smith’s new offense, but his performance against Carolina featured two costly interceptions — two throws that I’d wager Ryan would like to take back.

His first was an ill-advised throw over the middle intended for tight end Hayden Hurst in the second quarter. Sensing the middle of the offensive line collapsing, Ryan heaved a bail-me-out ball in Hurst’s direction, only to have it end up in the hands of Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson.

When Matt Ryan is tossing picks to linebackers, you know he’s not comfortable.

The second interception on the day proved more consequential, as Atlanta was in comeback mode with under two minutes remaining in the game. Matt Ryan locked in on Kyle Pitts, and (again) feeling pressure, threw a ball into tight coverage over the middle, which cornerback Stephon Gilmore promptly intercepted to seal the win.