The Panthers started this half on offense, and really there's not much I can say that you haven't heard already. The Falcons got very little pressure from their defensive line, and when they did (this time John Abraham) Cam Newton broke out of a would-be sack and turned it into a gain. The defense broke down on yet another third-down play, and Abe's inability to wrap up allowed Newton to rush for the 14-yard score.
The only adjustments on defense that I saw (if you wanted to call them that) were more blitzing and looser coverage. Neither really made any impact. The Panthers were still able to score, only this time it was more painful to watch because the drive was longer.
On offense, the second-half stagnation continued. Outside of a 13-yard completion to Tony Gonzalez, not much happened. On the second third-down of the drive, Ryan threw into double coverage and it fell incomplete. Though he's had a good game thus far, the Ice Man just seems way too locked in on Roddy White at times. You look at quarterbacks like Rodgers and Brees, and you see they use all of their weapons. Just something to consider.
Matt Bosher, however, has finally shown some improvement: he booted a 46-yard punt that landed inside the Carolina 20. The punt team definitely gets a gold star for improvement thus far.
On the defense's second round of the half however, the pass rush finally came through. John Abraham broke into the backfield and forced and incompletion on first down, and then Ray Edwards notched the second sack of the game on third down. That forced the Panthers to punt out of their own end zone, and the offense took over at midfield. Nice to see Edwards show that he's getting healthier by the week.
And the offense did what we'd been expecting all week: leaning on Michael Turner and the ground game. Ovie Mughelli has had a great game blocking for Turner, as has the offensive line (for the most part). Three straight carries by Turner went for 41 total yards and put the Falcons in a first and goal situation as the third quarter came to a close.
So, you could call that third-quarter "improvement," although really it's more a case of "well, it wasn't as bad as before." Still, the Falcons haven't let this game slip away yet, which sadly has me in a good mood. If the Falcons can score and put together a good last quarter, however, they'll be sitting at .500. Let's go!