Matt Ryan led the Falcons offense to 20 points in the second half, but it just wasn't enough for Atlanta to pull out another tough, gritty victory on the road.
Ryan finished the day 34-of-49 passing for 342 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Roddy White caught nine of those passes for 117 yards and a score.
The real issue, however, was Atlanta's inability to keep possession in the first half. This was, in large part, due to the continued ineffectiveness of Michael Turner when the team needs tough yards.
Turner managed a meager 14 yards on seven carries this afternoon, a pathetic total considering that the Panthers defense has allowed opponents to rush for an average of 128.8 yards per game this season.
The defense struggled as well, and showed that the absence of safety William Moore really does mean a lot for this team.
Cam Newton had a field day, throwing for 287 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing the ball nine times for 116 yards and a score. Steve Smith caught seven of Newton's passes for 109 yards and a TD.
And though coverage varied at times throughout the game, Atlanta managed to sack the elusive Newton only once (Vance Walker), and recorded just three QB hits.
With such a poor showing on both sides, the Falcons coaching staff and players will likely view today as a much-needed wake up call for a team that continually plays down to its competition.
The Falcons fall to 11-2 on the season, and 3-2 in NFC South matchups, but still remain on track to secure home-field advantage should they right the ship in the remaining weeks.