Falcons Vs. Panthers: 31-23 Comeback Victory Keeps Atlanta In Playoff Race

The Falcons, fighting for their playoff lives, pulled off an explosive comeback against a NFC South foe.

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Falcons Vs. Panthers Final Score: Falcons Comeback To Win 31-23, Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

If the Falcons showed us anything in their 31-23 win over the division-rival Panthers today, it was resiliency. Down 23-7 at the half, they pulled out all the stops on offense and absolutely clamped down on defense to drop 24 unanswered points on Carolina in the second half.

After Olindo Mare missed what was about a 36-yard field goal attempt, the Falcons got the ball back at their own 25-yard line with over five minutes left in the game, hoping to run out some clock and extend their lead. However, Julio Jones had other things in mind. On only the second play of the possession, Matt Ryan hooked up with Jones on a 75-yard catch and run that he took all the way to the end zone, extending the Falcons' lead to eight points.

After that the defense held up, stopping the Panthers on fourth down deep in Falcons territory, and then simply elected to pound away with Turner to kill clock and seal the 31-23 victory.

But what a transformation from the first half to the second! Ryan would finish the day having gone 22-for-38 with 320 yards passing and four touchdowns, but to be honest he and the entire offense looked absolutely atrocious for the first 30 minutes of play.

You have to give credit to the coaching staff for this victory: they took a Falcons team that entered half time with their tails between their legs and sent them out hungry for a W. Julio showed that amazing big-play potential of his. Turner was steady pounding the rock between the tackles.

Most of all, the defense really clamped down, forcing Cam Newton to make a couple of costly mistakes and generally keeping him uncomfortable in the pocket all second half.

Perhaps most importantly for the Falcons, with this win they improve to 8-5 and keep their playoff hopes alive for another week.

For more on the Atlanta Falcons, check out The Falcoholic and for more on the Carolina Panthers go visit Cat Scratch Reader.

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Falcons Vs. Panthers Update: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones Connect On TD As Falcons Take Lead 24-23

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.

For more on the Atlanta Falcons, check out The Falcoholic and for more on the Carolina Panthers go visit Cat Scratch Reader.

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Falcons Vs. Panthers Halftime Score: Falcons Implode, Trail 23-7 At The Half

The Falcons entered the second quarter tied at 7-7 with the Panthers, but they enter the locker room now trailing 23-7 at halftime. Where to begin?

The catalyst that broke this game wide open for the Panthers was none other than much-maligned former first rounder Sam Baker. On third and six inside their own 10, Baker was easily beaten by his man Antwan Applewhite, who then sacked Matt Ryan in the end zone for a safety.

Then on the second play of the ensuing possession, DeAngelo Williams got the pitch and took it 74 yards to the house (untouched, I might add). That score would put Carolina up 16-7.

After forcing the Falcons to go three-and-out, Cam Newton would then find Greg Olsen on a screen pass on third and fourteen. Olsen would catch that pass and take 44 yards down the field for another score, extending the Panthers' lead to 23-7 and blowing this football game wide open.

Both Sam Baker and Joe Hawley, who each spent time at right guard, struggled mightily. In fact, the entire offensive line seemed to experience a major regression and completely failed to give Ryan any sort of time in the pocket. For the Falcons, they may be watching the sun set on their playoff hopes this afternoon, and barring some strong second-half adjustments or a big-time comeback by the offense, this one looks to be in the hands of Carolina.

For more on the Atlanta Falcons, check out The Falcoholic and for more on the Carolina Panthers go visit Cat Scratch Reader.

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