Falcons hang on late, knock off Panthers
Matt Ryan threw for 281 yards and scored on a run and the Atlanta Falcons came up with enough plays on defense to turn away the Carolina Panthers for a 25-17 victory Thursday night in Charlotte, N.C.
Ryan was 21-for-30 in the air with an interception.
The Panthers took possession with 2:58 remaining at their own 5-yard line after the Falcons, who had reached Carolina territory, punted for the only time in the game. The Panthers moved to the Atlanta 30-yard line before an interception by Blidi Wreh-Wilson was the game’s clincher.
Curtis Samuel scored two touchdowns for Carolina, which was without All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey for the sixth consecutive game. McCaffrey returned to practice earlier in the week as he recovers from an ankle injury, but it was announced earlier in the day that he would be held out.
Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was 15-for-23 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Carolina (3-5) has followed a three-game winning streak with three straight losses.
The outcome came less than three weeks since the Panthers won 23-16 in Atlanta, and Raheem Morris became the Falcons’ interim coach the next day upon the firing of Dan Quinn. Atlanta (2-6), which was coming off a one-point home loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, improved to 2-1 under Morris.
Atlanta receiver Julio Jones churned out another big game against the Panthers, posting 137 yards on seven catches.
Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo was 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts, connecting from 20, 37, 36 and 29 yards — although he did miss an extra point in the fourth quarter.
Samuel, a receiver, scored on a 12-yard run in the first quarter. He caught a 29-yard pass from Bridgewater on a second-quarter flea flicker.
Ryan’s 13-yard run for a score midway through the second quarter and Koo’s 36-yard field goal on the final play in the half provided the Falcons with a 16-14 halftime lead.
The Panthers were within 19-17 after Joey Slye’s 39-yard field goal on a drive extended by a successful fake punt.
Todd Gurley’s 3-yard run gave him an NFL-leading eighth touchdown run of the season for Atlanta. But Koo missed the extra-point kick, leaving the Falcons with a 25-17 lead at the 11:01 mark.
Falcons defensive end Charles Harris was ejected for a third-quarter hit on Bridgewater, who entered the game second in the NFL with a 72.2 completion percentage. Bridgewater returned with just under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter after receiving treatment for an apparent neck injury.
–Field Level Media