The Atlanta Falcons headed to today’s game with the Carolina Panthers in search of a division title and playoff birth. So for, things are going as planned.
The Atlanta Falcons got on the board with their first drive when Matt Ryan hit rookie Josh Perkins for a 26-yard touchdown pass. The score was the first of Perkins’ career. His leap over a pair of Carolina defenders was impressive and welcoming for a team short on healthy tight ends.
Matt Ryan became the single-season leader in Atlanta Falcons’ history with 33 touchdown passes.
The Panthers’ first drive didn’t work out quite as well. After converting on a 4-and-1 play, Cam Newton heaved a ball that was picked off by Brian Poole. The throw was the first of many bad ones from the Carolina quarterback in the 30 minutes of action. Charles Davis of Fox’s broadcast has pointed out a number of plays in which Newton threw off his back foot or to the wrong shoulder.
The Atlanta Falcons continued to lay it on the Panthers in their fifth drive. A pair of big throws to Mohamed Sanu exploited a Carolina secondary that doesn’t appear interested in playing. The Falcons also mixed in a couple of solid runs by Devonta Freeman and moved to the 1-yard line. A jumbo package play-fake saw Matt Ryan scramble and hit DJ Tialavea for his 34th touchdown pass.
Tialavea was called up from the practice squad this week and recently lost his father. A majority of the Falcons’ sideline embraced the young tight end following his first career touchdown.
The Falcons have made plenty attempt to get Julio Jones involved after welcoming him back to the lineup. Matt Ryan hasn’t hit Jones for anything big yet but has looked his way quite a bit in the first half. Devonta Freeman has caught quite a few balls on dump-offs as a result of Jones not getting open soon enough.
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Give a ton of credit to the Atlanta secondary for their excellent coverage. Cam isn’t making things easy, but even on this better throws, the Falcons’ DBs are all over Panther WRs. Newton finishes the half with 58 passing yards and a couple of interceptions.
Great red zone defense has kept the game as close as it is. Matt Bryant hit a pair of long field goals in the first half. His third attempt was blocked by Carolina toward the close of the second quarter.
Barring any dramatic shift in momentum, the Falcons are well on the way to win #10.