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.