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Falcons vs. Panthers: Mike Smith strives for improved run defense

Coach Mike Smith addressed Atlanta's struggles against the run, as he and his coaching staff prepare to take on the Panthers on Sunday.

Kevin C. Cox

When the Falcons hosted the Panthers in Week 4, Atlanta narrowly escaped with a victory, but struggled to contain the Carolina rushing attack. The Panthers totalled 199 yards on the ground, won the time-of-possession battle, and held a lead in the fourth quarter. Atlanta managed to win thanks to a last-second field goal from Matt Bryant, but coach MIke Smith and the Falcons hope to be tougher against the run on Sunday. Coach Smith told the media on Tuesday,

"We've certainly got to play better than we did the first time that we played them ... Obviously, we're taking a good hard look at what we did last time and what we need to do this week."

Last time, Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton ran for 86 yards on just nine rushes. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for an additional 89 yards on 21 carries. Smith stressed that it was Newton's mobility that made the Carolina attack so difficult to contain:

"This is an offense that has a different element in terms of how they run the football with the quarterback having to account for him as a runner. ... They are a team that can run the football and create explosive plays in both the run game and the pass game because of the play action with having to commit the extra defender to stop the run."

In general, the Falcons have not had a great season against the run. They allow opposing rushers to average 4.8 yards per carry, which is third-worst in the NFL.

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