As we get underway at the Georgia Dome, a few notable lineup changes: John Abraham, who's playing status was in question earlier in the week, is starting this week, as is fellow veteran Todd McClure. Harry Douglas has gotten the start on the outside in place of Julio Jones.
Well, the Falcons first offensive drive of the game featured a good mix of pass and was moving along just fine, until Matt Ryan threw the ball to no one on third down, and the Falcons were forced to punt at midfield. Clearly there was some sort of miscommunication between Ryan and the intended receiver Roddy White, and that'll happen sometimes. But you can't have it killing your drives.
On the plus side, Matt Bosher had probably his first good punt of the season, pinning the Panthers on their own 12. But that great field position was squandered almost immediately: pass interference called on William Moore resulted in almost 20 free yards for Carolina. Then after forcing a third down, Cam Newton did his best Aaron Rodgers impression by escaping what should have been a Falcons sack and scrambling for the first down. Suddenly I'm having flashback's to last year's UGA-Auburn game...
Later in the drive, with the Panthers inside the red zone and threatening to score, Newton's pass intended for Greg Olsen would fall incomplete in the end zone. But man, it could have easily been a touchdown. Carolina would settle for a field goal, giving the Panthers a 3-0 lead early in this ball game.
Atlanta took over on offense again, and three straight running plays called pretty much tells you what the Falcons are trying to do. A toss (!!) to Jacquizz Rodgers and some nifty running would result in a first down. Then Ryan went to the air and found Roddy for a 14-yard gain. That is how you open up the passing game.
After a series of multiple penalties against the Panthers, Ryan went deep to Roddy White in the end zone and Charles Godfrey was called for the pass interference (it could have easily been a touchdown). So with first and goal at the one, Turner punched it in as the first quarter came to a close. The Falcons now hold the lead, 7-3, on the back of that great no-huddle offense.
For more on this game, visit Atlanta Falcons blog The Falcoholic and Carolina Panthers blog Cat Scratch Reader.