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Falcons 29, Panthers 21: A solid effort from the offense and defense keeps Atlanta relevant in December

Atlanta’s running game is coming alive at the perfect time.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

The battle of I-85 commenced for the second time on Sunday, with the 5-7 Carolina Panthers hosting the 5-7 Atlanta Falcons in the “How are either of us still in playoff contention Sadness Bowl.” Did Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense find a way to score on this very good Panthers defense? Read on to find out.

First quarter

The Panthers defer to the second half and the Atlanta offense starts from their 25 with a short pass to Cordarelle Patterson that loses 2 yards. Hooray. After Mike Davis runs for 5, on 3rd and 7 Matt Ryan connects with Kyle Pitts for 6 yards, forcing 4th and 1. Atlanta punts. Carolina takes over on their 35 after a fair catch and penalty on Frank Darby.

Cam Newton opens their first drive with a 7 yard pass to D.J. Moore. Chuba Hubbard picks up the first on a run for 3 yards. Moore takes another pass for 11 and Hubbard loses 1 on the first down run. Newton runs for 11 and the first. The pass to Brandon Zylstra gains 15 and the first and Hubbard runs for 8 and and -1 to setup 3rd and 3 from the Atlanta 12. Newton finishes the drive with a 12 yard touchdown run.

Falcons 0, Panthers 7

Starting from their 25 again, the Falcons offense starts with a Patterson run that loses 1 followed by Matt Ryan hitting Russell Gage deep for a big 36 yard gain. Patterson runs for no gain and Ryan is nearly picked off on 2nd down. On 3rd and 10, Ryan hits Gage again for 9 to setup 4th and 1. Atlanta goes for it and converts on a 5 yard run by Mike Davis. Cordarelle runs for 2 and after an incomplete pass, on 3rd and 8 Ryan hits Gage again for 13 and the first. Patterson runs for 6 and again to finish the drive with a 5 yard touchdown run.

Falcons 7, Panthers 7

After the kick return goes to the 28, the Carolina offense starts with a Cam Newton fumble that he recovers and turns into a 2 yard gain. Ameer Abdullah adds 5 more on 2nd down and on 3rd and 3, Cam throws incomplete to Moore. Panthers punt.

After the fair catch puts them on their own 11, the Atlanta offense starts with a run by Patterson for 3. After an incomplete pass and a too many men penalty on Carolina, on 3rd and 2 Mike Davis runs for 10 and the first as the quarter comes to an end.

Falcons 7, Panthers 7

Second quarter

Patterson runs for no gain and a false start (Jake Matthews) sets them back 5 more. Davis runs for 4 and on 3rd and 11, Ryan throws short to Patterson for 3 and Atlanta has to punt. A fantastic punt by Morstead puts Carolina on their 3.

Cam runs for 2 then the short throw to Moore picks up 22. After an incomplete pass and penalty, Cam hits Robby Anderson for 10. Hubbard runs for 4 and Newton sneaks for the first. Cam misses Moore on 1st down but hits Anderson deep right for 23 yards and the first. Abdullah runs for 4, Newton throws incomplete and on 3rd and 6 from the Atlanta 36, Newton is picked off by Mykal Walker who takes it all the way back for the pick 6.

Falcons 14, Panthers 7

After a kickoff return and penalty, the Panthers offense starts from their 13 with a run for 1 by Hubbard. After Moore can’t haul in the 2nd down pass, on 3rd and 9, Newton scrambles for 4 and Carolina punts. Atlanta’s offense takes over on their 49 after the short punt.

The Falcons offense starts with a pass to Kyle Pitts that doesn’t connect. After Patterson runs for a loss, on 3rd and 11, Ryan connects with Mike Davis on the short pass and he turns it into a 20 yard gain and the first. Davis then runs for 4 and Patterson adds on 11 more on the ground and another first. Cordarelle runs for 4 and the pass to Patterson is incomplete. On 3rd and 6 from the Carolina 13, Ryan’s pass falls incomplete after he’s pressured immediately. Younghoe Koo comes on and punches in the 32 yard field goal.

Falcons 17, Panthers 7

After the touchback and 3:12 left in the half, the Carolina offense starts with P.J. Walker connecting with Anderson for a 9 yard gain. After Walker loses 5 on the ground, on 3rd and 6 Walker’s pass intended for Anderson is picked off by A.J. Terrell.

The Falcons offense takes over on their 46 with a run by Davis for no gain followed by a short pass to Pitts for 4. On 3rd and 6, the short pass to Mike Davis gains 4 to setup 4th and 2 from the Carolina 46. Falcons convert but we end up going to halftime.

At the half - Falcons 17, Panthers 7

Third quarter

After the kickoff goes out of bounds, Cam Newton takes over again from the Carolina 40 with an 8 yard pass to Zylstra. After Hubbard loses 1, on 3rd and 3 Newton connects with Tommy Tremble for 14 and the first. The pass to Abdullah gains 6 and Cam runs for 6 and the first. The first pass for Ian Thomas is broken up but Cam runs again for 11 more and another first. Hubbard then wraps up the drive with a 17 yard run for the touchdown.

Falcons 17, Panthers 14

From their 25, the Falcons offense starts with a deep pass to Tajae Sharpe that is badly underthrown and goes incomplete. Ryan then connects with Kyle Pitts for 13 and the first. Patterson runs for 12 and Ryan’s pass to Lee Smith picks up 12 more. Patterson runs for 2 and the 2nd down flea flicker pass is similarly horrible but Ryan draws a questionable roughing penalty. Patterson runs for 4 and 3 and after a false start, on 3rd and 8, Ryan can’t connect with Mike Davis. Younghoe Koo comes on and punches in the 38 yarder.

Falcons 20, Panthers 14

From their 24, the Panthers drive starts with an incomplete pass and a pass to Abdullah that gains 4. On 3rd and 6, Newton connects with Moore for 18 and the first. Moore takes the next pass for 7 and Newton fumbles the handoff and it’s recovered by Grady Jarrett. Falcons ball.

From the Carolina 49, the Falcons offense starts with a holding penalty. Of course. After an incomplete pass on 1st down and Sharpe taking the 2nd down pass for 7, on 3rd and 13, Ryan connects with Pitts for 14 and the first. Qadree Ollison runs for 11 and again for 8 and once more for 5 and the first. Patterson runs for 9 to setup 2nd and 1 from the Carolina 5. Patterson runs again for no gain and we have 3rd and 1 as we head to the final quarter.

Falcons 20, Panthers 14

Fourth quarter

With 3rd and 1 to go from the Carolina 5, the Falcons pick up the first on a Matt Ryan sneak. Matt Ryan finishes the drive with the short touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst. The Falcons decide to go for 2 and can’t convert.

Falcons 26, Panthers 14

From their 25, the Panthers start with a 1 yard run by Hubbard. After a false start, Newton connects with Tremble for 9 to setup 3rd and 5. Cam’s pass to Zylstra gains 3 and the Panthers decide to go for it on 4th and 2. Newton hits Anderson for 6 and the conversion. Newton then hits Moore for 19 and another first. Hubbard runs for 2 and Cam is stopped for a 2 yard loss by Dante Fowler. On 3rd and 10, Newton is nearly picked off again by Terrell. Panthers go for it and Newton is sacked by Dante Fowler and the turnover on downs.

The Falcons offense starts from the Carolina 48 with a 1 yard run by Davis. Ryan then hits Davis out of the backfield for 11 and the first. Ollison loses 2 on the first down run and Ryan hits Gage for a quick 6 yards to setup 3rd and 6. The pass to Davis gains on 2 yards to setup 4th and 4 from the Carolina 30. Younghoe Koo comes on for the 48 yard field goal and nails it.

Falcons 29, Panthers 14

After the touchback, the Carolina offense starts with P.J. Walker in at QB and he drops the first down snap and recovers it, losing 3 yards. Deion Jones is then called for a GARBAGE roughing the passer call and Walker then hits Zylstra for 19 and another first. Walker throws into the ground on first down and his 2nd down pass gets Robby Anderson murdered by Jaylinn Hawkins. On 3rd and 10, Walker throws incomplete looking for Ian Thomas. The fourth down pass also goes incomplete and it’s another turnover on downs.

From their 44, the Falcons offense starts with a run by Ollison who fumbles it and Carolina recovers. Oh good grief.

Walker’s first down pass to Anderson is dropped but the 2nd down pass is caught for 13 and the first down. Anderson picks up another first on 18 more and it’s 1st and 10 from the Atlanta 20. The pass to Abdullah gains 11 and sets up 1st and goal from the Atlanta 9. Abdullah runs for 4 and it’s 2nd and goal from the Atlanta 5. Walker then hits Anderson for the touchdown. Carolina goes for 2 and a false start makes Carolina rethink going for 2. They take the extra point instead.

Falcons 29, Panthers 21

After Avery Williams returns it to the Atlanta 40, the Falcons offense comes on and starts with an offensive holding penalty my god. Mike Davis runs for 4 and again for 2 to setup 3rd and 14. On the money down, Ryan connects with Kyle Pitts for a big 23 yard gain and the critical first down. Mike Davis runs for 3 to take us to the 2 minute warning. Davis runs again for 5 and on 3rd and 2, Matt Ryan runs up the middle and gains 3 yards and the first! Falcons kneel us out to the win.

Final: Falcons 29, Panthers 21