Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
The Panthers' decision to punt to Atlanta cost them a win on Sunday, but there's an admirable defense for the move.
Despite coming away with a win, there's plenty for the Atlanta Falcons to be concerned about after Matt Bryant's game-ending field goal stole a win from division rival Carolina after the Panthers had dominated a good portion of the game. A lot of what worked extremely well in early wins failed for Atlanta: Julio Jones, who was hampered by a hand injury, an agressive blitz scheme on defense, and Matt Ryan's pass protection. That's why as The Falcoholic writes, that Michael Turner's reemergence was so timely:
Michael Turner finally put on the kind of clinic we all knew he could. Against an inferior Panthers run defense, the Burner was downright abusive, putting up over 100 yards on less than 20 carries and regularly trucking over hapless teal cats on his way there. Add in three catches for 68 yards and a touchdown and it's not hard to figure out why Turner was invaluable today.
Meanwhile, Cat Scratch Reader is taking a bold defense of the much-maligned decision by Panthers head coach Ron Rivera to punt on 4th and 1. While writer James Dator has a list of convincing reasons, did you know that despite his running prowess, Cam Newton is 16th in the NFL in third down conversions and has yet to convert a fourth down attempt (0-2) in 2012?
Compound this with the fact your running QB just fumbled the ball, and why exactly do you want to go back to that well? It's far too easy to say it shows a lack of faith in your offense, but the flip-side is that by not punting you show no faith in your defense to stop the Falcons on a long field.
While there are a list of reasons the Panthers might have been smart to punt – a 99-yard field for Atlanta, seven sacks on Ryan entering that final drive, the disappearance of Jones – Falcons fans are certainly tickled that Carolina made the move.