A 30-28 last second win probably wasn’t the way the Atlanta Falcons had envisioned a victory over the division rival Carolina Panthers, but despite some struggles throughout the game, Atlanta proved they could win a different kind of game than they had in their previous three.
The Falcons not only wore throwback uniforms in the Georgia Dome, but they played a game that looked like a throwback to the 2008 season. Michael Turner led the Falcons offensive attack with 103 rushing yards, 68 receiving yards and a touchdown, and the familiar passing combination of Matt Ryan to Roddy White was alive and well, totaling 169 yards and two touchdowns.
The one throwback the Falcons could have done without was allowing Ryan to be sacked seven times in the game, and to be constantly under duress from the Panthers pass rush. To his credit, Ryan didn’t let the pounding rattle him, and when the Falcons needed him most, he came through.
The Falcons played old school Atlanta ball, pounding the ball with Turner, using possession receptions to White, all to set up for a big play.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton had a near flawless game (outside of his ill-advised A-Town Stomp and Superman shirt schtick) and looked to finally break through with his first win over Atlanta. Near flawless…until…
With under two minutes to go in the game, and with the Falcons out of time outs, all the Panthers needed to do was fall forward for a couple of yards and secure the first down, and the victory. Newton took the ball…fell forward…and promptly had it knocked out of his hands by Falcons safety William Moore. The Panthers were able to recover the ball, but well short of the needed yardage for the first down.
A breath of life for the Falcons quickly turned into a last gasp, as the Panthers down the subsequent punt at the Atlanta 1-yard line, and left the Falcons with only 59 seconds to take the ball down field into a manageable field goal attempt.
How about a 59-yard pass from Ryan to White for Starters. A couple of quick possession passes, and a pass interference call, and suddenly the Falcons are a 40-yard Matt Bryant field goal away from only the third 4-0 start in the history of the franchise. Kick…good.
To ice the cake on this old school throwback day, the final play of the game was made by The Predator, John Abraham, as he buried Cam Newton for his first sack of the game as time expired.
Despite coming away with a huge divisional win, the performance of Atlanta’s offensive line has to be a huge concern. As good a job as they did opening up holes for Turner to run through, they were equally as bad in pass protection. Matt Ryan is lucky to come away with his head still attached.
Atlanta travels to Washington next week to take on Robert Griffin III and the new-look Washington Redskins.