The Falcons get their second win of the season over divisional rival Carolina Panthers 28-20. And they looked good doing it as they dawned the 1966 throwback uniforms for the game. The Falcons controlled the game for most of it, but it came down to the wire as the Panthers had a shot with a last second hail mary to tie it.
Matt Ryan led the way with his first career 3-touchdown performance. He completed 21 of 27 passes for 220 yards and an interception. On the ground, Michael Turner rebounded with a good performance rushing for 105 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown. Jason Snelling had 6 carries for 37 yards, subbing in for an injured Jerious Norwood for most of the game. Tony Gonzalez led receivers with 7 catches for 71 yards and his second-straight scoring week. Roddy White also added a touchdown, and caught 6 passes for 53 yards. Michael Jenkins had 3 grabs for 33 yards. Snelling caught Ryan’s other touchdown pass, on his only reception of the day for 10 yards.
Defensively, the Falcons gave up some yards, but were able to make some key stops at times. They gave up 308 yards in the air and 144 on the ground. Mike Peterson and Erik Coleman tied for the lead with 9 tackles each. Both players also each were credited with a forced fumble. John Abraham (3 tackles), Jonathan Babineaux (2 tackles), Thomas DeCoud (5 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), Chris Houston (5 tackles, 1 interception), Curtis Lofton (8 tackles), and Stephen Nicholas (6 tackles, 1 sack) had noteworthy games as well. Houston’s interception helped seal the victory with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game as the Panthers were driving. Houston picked it off at their own four yard line. The Falcons were able to bleed off more time, but the Panthers would have one more shot with 30 seconds left in the game at their own 26 after a Falcons punt. Delhomme would move the Panthers 31 yards on four plays, setting up a 43-yard hail mary that was tipped by Brent Grimes and Brian Finneran and hit the turf just short of Dwayne Jarrett’s reach to end the game.
Jason Elam had no field goal attempts. Michael Koenen had 3 punts for an average of 49.7 yards, with 1 placed inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems had 2 kickoff returns for an average of 31.5 yards, while Norwood also had a 39-yard kickoff return. The team also got a blocked punt by Brian Williams in the first quarter, which set up the team’s first touchdown to Gonzalez.
The Falcons will try to keep their winning streak alive next week on the road facing off against the perennial powerhouse New England Patriots (1-1). The Falcons last faced the Patriots in a tight loss back in 2005. Starting with that victory, the Patriots have won 15 straight against NFC opponents in the regular season. The Falcons have lost their last two against the Patriots, but won four straight prior to that dating back to 1989.