Gameday Live Blog / Open Thread: Falcons at Panthers

Scott Hamilton

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It's almost time for kickoff at Bank of America Stadium for the game between the Carolina Panthers (5-4) and the Atlanta Falcons (2-7). This will be the 49th meeting between the teams, with Atlanta having a 30-edge. The Falcons have six of the last seven games against the Panthers, including a current run of three straight. It's 54 degrees and sunny in Charlotte.

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  • Also interesting that on the depth chart, DJ Moore is listed as first-team punt returner with Brandon Zylstra as his back-up. But Zylstra isn't active today.
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NFC South standings
  • Despite New Orleans losing to the Falcons last week, the Saints still have a two-game lead in the NFC South. And the Panthers are projected as a No. 9 seed if the NFC playoffs started today, with the Vikings getting the sixth and final spot. The Rams and Eagles are Nos. 7 and 8.
  • Food for thought: Pass rush -- or pass protection depending upon your point of view -- will be key today. Consider that Atlanta sacked Drew Brees six times last week – after going into that game with seven total sacks through the first nine weeks. First team to sack Brees six times since 2013. Carolina, meanwhile, gave up three sacks at Green Bay.
  • World War II vet Pete Dupree, age 96, just played the national anthem on his harmonica. And it was awesome ..
  • And about 10 yards away from Dupree kneels Carolina safety Eric Reid.
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  • Falcons get ball first. Drive to the Carolina 21 before having to settle for a 38-yard field goal from Koo and take 3-0 lead.  Drive was for eight plays, 55 yards, 3:21 of game clock, 11:39 left in first quarter.
  • Panthers begin drive on their own 25 -- and Kyle Allen is intercepted three plays later. Falcons take over at the 30. That was the third interception this season for the Falcons.
  • Addison sack on third down forces Atlanta to attempt a 38-yard field goal, but Koo misses wide right. Carolina takes over at its 28.
  • Beasley sacks Allen for a loss of 13 yards, Carolina punting from its 22. Remember that whole thing about protecting/getting to the quarterback?
  • Another sack by the Falcons ends another Carolina drive. Gonna punt from its own 19, 1:39 left in first quarter.
  • And that would be a 78-yard return by former Panther Kenjon Barner down the left side. It's 10-0 Atlanta, 59 seconds left in the first quarter.
  • Allen hits Samuel for a 2-yard game on third down to bring up 4th and 4 from the Atlanta 38. Panthers go for it, Allen hits McCaffrey with a swing pass along the right side for an 8-yard gain and first down.
  • Greg Olsen sighting. Allen hits him across the middle for 15. First down, Atlanta 15.  
  • Kyle Allen interception in the end zone intended for Moore. Trufant picked him off.
  • Matt Ryan slides left, then runs right before hitting Gage with a 5-yard touchdown pass. Play under review.
  • Incomplete pass. Fourth and four from the Carolina 5.
  • Falcons settle for a 23-yard field goal from Koo. Falcons lead 13-0. Ten plays, 75 yards, five minutes of game time. There's 5:42 left in the first half.
  • The Falcons are averaging 6.0 yards per play with no turnovers -- and yet lead only 13-0.
  • Panthers punt for third time, giving Atlanta the ball at its 29. What's at stake with 2:57 remaining in the half? Falcons haven't pitched a first-half shutout this year and the Panthers have always scored at least once before halftime.
  • Two-minute warning and Falcons -- with 1st and 10 from Carolina 45 -- are nipping at 200 total yards for the first half. Have 181 and counting ...
  • A 50-yard balloon pulled in by Jones and a roughing the passer on Carolina -- on 3rd and 16. 1st and goal from the Panthers 1. Ollison barrels in for TD. It's 20-0 Atlanta, 1:34 remaining in first half.
  • Panthers go for it on 4th and 5 from the 50 with 53 seconds left. They get it, drive down to the Atlanta 21.
  • Allen picked off by Trufant near the goal line. Ryan takes a knee to end the half.

HALFTIME Falcons 20, Panthers 0

Halftime analysis

  • Carolina had 143 total yards in the first half -- 31 of which came on a pass to DJ Moore with 1:18 remaining before halftime. Kyle Allen is 14-25 for 139 yards and three interceptions. Those picks as well as the three times he's been sacked have kept Carolina from either mounting a scoring drive or maintaining any momentum that might be created. The result is Carolina being shut out in a half for the first time since 2018.
  • As often as Carolina has shot itself in the foot, things should actually be much worse. Each of Atlanta's four scoring drives could've -- perhaps should've -- resulted in touchdowns. Instead the Falcons have twice had to kick field goals, including a 25-yarder with 5:45 remaining in the half that capped off a 10-play, 75-yard, five-minute drive. 

McCaffrey has been targeted six times, catching five for 37 yards. That's likely not change considering Atlanta has given up 275 receiving yards to running backs this season, the fifth-best total in the league. The flip side is he had 36 yards rushing on eight carries, giving him more than 1,000 this season.

THIRD QUARTER

  • Panthers get the ball. Starts at their 24-yard line.
  • Heavy does of McCaffrey to start third quarter. Has 54 yards of offense already and Carolina has 1st and 10 from Atlanta 40.
  • Panthers going for it on 4th and 5. Allen sacked by Clayborn for 12-yard loss. Atlanta takes over at its 47.
  • Meanwhile, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finale is about to start in Florida ...
  • Falcons convert a 4th and 1 to the Carolina 43. There's 9:29 remaining in the third quarter, Atlanta still driving.
  • Three plays, three first downs for the Falcons.
  • Ryan to Ridley for 6-yard touchdown to make it 26-0 Atlanta. Drive consisted of 10 plays, 52 yards, 4:52 of gametime.
  • Panthers try for 4th and 1 at their 34, but McCaffrey is stuffed. Falcons take over, 4:57 left in third quarter.
  • Poe sacks Ryan for 6-yard loss on third down. Falcons punt, Carolina take over at its 9. Still the Falcons have collected 17 first downs with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter. And the Panthers haven’t forced turnover since midway through the fourth quarter of their win over the Tennessee Titans.

END OF THIRD QUARTER

Atlanta 26, Panthers 0

  • Panthers putting together a drive. Have gotten to the Atlanta 26-yard line on five plays as the quarter changes. First and 10 to start the fourth.
  • Drive stalls, Carolina scores with 13 minutes remaining via a 31-yard field goal from Joey Slye. Drive was 12 plays, 78 yards, 4:49 of game time. It's 26-3 Atlanta.
  • Atlanta adds a field goal with 7:01 remaining to make it 29-3 Falcons. Lots of people -- well what's left of the 73, 106 tickets that the Panthers say were distributed --are making their way out of Bank of America Stadium.
  • Atlanta punts, Panthers begin likely their last possession of the game at their 35 with 1:47 remaining.
  • Atlanta sacks Allen at the Carolina 30 on third down. The Falcons collected five sacks for minus-55 yards.
  • Carolina punts, Atlanta fair catch at its 21. Falcons takes knee with 11 seconds to go, game over.

FINAL Atlanta 29, Panthers 3

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