The Atlanta Falcons are the current NFC South division leaders beating Carolina 37-34 despite giving the game away twice. Carolina missed an extra point and a chip shot field goal that would have given them the victory and first place in the division. Instead, two shocking misses gave the Falcons life and after an interception that set up the field goal attempt, Mariota and the Atlanta rushing attack put Younghoe Koo in position to win the game.
It is important to note that while Mariota had a huge day and help put together a game-winning drive the quarterback also threw two interceptions one of which should have ended the game for Carolina. Luckily for Mariota, however, the Carolina kicker seemed to be in his own head after missing a PAT thanks to a D.J. Moore penalty.
A missed field goal gave Atlanta their second chance in overtime and the Falcons finally put the Panthers away with a huge rush from Mariota that set up Koo for the game-winning kick. A game Atlanta had won in regulation with just over twenty seconds left.
D.J. Moore got behind the Atlanta defense when their one focus was to tackle the ball within fifty yards of the line of scrimmage and the clock would have likely left Carolina with one play or run out completely. While the Falcons won this game in the end the honest conclusion is that the defense was poorly disciplined all day long and gave this game to the Panthers before the Carolina kicker was unable to take advantage.
Mariota deserves credit for his 296-total yards on the day and a late scramble that did ultimately win the game for the Falcons. Though his interception on the first drive of overtime should have ended the game perfectly summing up Mariota’s season.
The win gives Atlanta the NFC South lead with a one-game lead over the Saints and Bucs and two games clear of the Panthers. With a tough game against the Chargers coming up in a week it was a must-win game in a division that is suddenly looking as if it is Atlanta’s to lose.