If the second quarter represented the very worst of what the Falcons had to offer, the third quarter symbolized perhaps the best they have to offer. A revitalized offense, two Cam Newton interceptions and 10 unanswered points suddenly have the Falcons alive and well in this one.
On defense, the coverage has tightened up, and Newton has begun showing his inexperience at times. On only their second possession of the quarter, Mike Peterson- who had an interception negated by penalty last week- picked off Newton on an attempted shovel-screen pass to Jonathan Stewart.
The ensuing possession by the Falcons was short, but sweet. Two plays, capped off by a 31-yard touchdown pass to Jacquizz Rodgers of all people. Rodgers ran a wheel route and beat out James Anderson, who was in man coverage on the play. Matt Ryan lofted an absolutely beautiful pass after struggling with the deep ball all season. The defense would follow the score up with another inspired stand against Newton and the Panthers' run game.
Then, as the game progressed from the third to the fourth quarter, Ryan led the offense on a 10-play, 90-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 17-yard pass to Julio Jones for a touchdown. Michael Turner finally started returning to form, eating up some tough yards on runs up the middle, and Tony Gonzalez was as consistent and clutch as ever.
All in all, the Falcons have managed to come all the way back from being down 23-7 at the half, dropping 17 unanswered points on a Panthers team that looks a little stunned to stay the least. Stay tuned.