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Falcons vs. Panthers: Hat tips & head-scratchers

What a wacky win.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that combined all of M. Night Shyamalan’s nutty plot twists into one, the Falcons eked out a wild win courtesy of Carolina’s inability to kick field goals. It wasn’t an inspiring effort from Atlanta, but the win moved them into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Read on for Hat tips & head-scratchers from Sunday’s win over the Panthers.

Hat tips

‘ZoMode: Engaged

Despite the quibbling over the acquisition of defender Lorenzo Carter in free agency and the loss of a comp pick, Carter has proven an impactful player for this transitional Atlanta defense. That impact was on full display Sunday, when Carter put together his finest play as a Falcon, tipping Carolina quarterback P.J. Walker’s pass attempt and returning it for a touchdown.

It could not have come at a better time for Atlanta, as the offense struggled mightily the entire half. Lorenzo Carter’s pick-six sent the Falcons into the locker room with a lead and momentum heading into the second half.

Damiere Byrd gets six

Wide receiver Damiere Byrd has caught four passes for the Falcons, and two of them have been touchdowns. None were more consequential than his 47-yard catch-and-run in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, a score that put the Falcons up late.

Byrd posted a 4.28 40-yard dash at his college pro day, and every bit of that was on display during his touchdown run.

D.J. Moore

Hat tip? Helmet tip? Whatever you want to label Moore’s penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after his 62-yard touchdown in the final second of regulation play, it led to the Falcons winning the football game. Kudos, sir.


Defending D’Onta Foreman

The defense had an abysmal day, and Carolina running back D’Onta Foreman punished them for it. The Falcons simply had no answer for Foreman, who gashed them for 118 yards on the ground along with three touchdowns. Three touchdowns on the day, including the key one in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons have had success against the run so far this season, but that was not the case against Carolina.

D.J. Moore gets behind the defense

Inexcusable. Yes, we’re talking about ‘the play,’ and had it not been for D.J. Moore’s celebration penalty, the Falcons would have come out on the losing end of this one due to boneheaded coverage mistakes. Both safety Dean Marlowe and linebacker Rashaan Evans hesitated on P.J. Walker’s Hail Mary attempt, allowing Moore to get behind them for the game-tying catch.

Letting anyone get behind the defense in that situation is eye-meltingly insane. The Panthers’ top receiver? Unreal.