The Atlanta Falcons had a road map, they chose not to follow it.
The Atlanta Falcons fell to a far less talented Carolina Panthers team, largely due to an inability to recognize where the Panthers' weaknesses are. Against the Kansas City Chiefs the Panthers were gashed with a series of outside runs, and yet the Falcons ran the ball just 11 times on the game, and four times at the half.
This proved to be the difference for much of the game. Carolina were dealing with a makeshift secondary, but their interior defensive line was unprepared do deal with Michael Turner up the middle. While Dirk Koetter tried, he gave up quickly, and resorted to throwing the ball an inordinate amount. The Panthers defense fails when there are any wrinkles, and an inability in understanding that throwing every down would allow the young defense to key in, really made the difference on Sunday.
There wasn't a lot the Falcons' defense could have done, it was one of those days for Cam Newton. The Panthers' QB has games every so often where he takes over with his arm and legs. While these are far between, the only hope is to get into a shootout because Carolina have problems getting into the end zone. Julio Jones had a match-up against Captain Munnerlyn, but he couldn't be involved in the offense enough.
Ultimately there's no mystery -- the Falcons waited until the second half to begin turning on the heat, and it was too late at that point. A loss means little at this point, and Atlanta can still clinch home field advantage, but the lack of understanding of Carolina's film is concerning, especially heading into the playoffs where far more accomplished teams will be waiting.