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Falcons vs. Panthers: Slow start costs Atlanta in defeat

Carolina shut out Atlanta in the first half Sunday, and that proved too much for the Falcons to overcome.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons lost 30-20 to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, which was just their second loss of the season. One reason for the loss was Atlanta's slow start -- the Panthers built a 16-0 halftime lead and led 23-0 before the Falcons finally managed to put some points on the board. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said afterward that he and his teammates talk all the time about starting fast, but it just didn't work out against the Panthers.

"I think every week we talk about wanting to start fast and we didn’t do a good job with that today," Ryan said. "I give Carolina credit. They came out and they played really well and regardless of who you’re playing, in this league if you let somebody jump out to an early lead it’s tough to overcome that."

Despite the loss, the Falcons still have the best record in the NFC and the inside track for the No. 1 playoff seed.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.