An incredible performance by the Panthers kept the Falcons in check on Sunday. Carolina has a lot of talent on their roster, and they showed that today. With Jonathan Stewart back in the lineup, the Panthers three headed monster rushing attack put on display led by Cam Newton. The strong rushing QB led the team with 86 yards on the ground while Williams and Stewart added another 89 to that total. In total, the Panthers rushed for 1 yard shy of 200 for the game. That is a concern going forward for Atlanta, but they also won’t face a QB with the rushing ability of Newton in most games.
Overall the defense didn’t play their best against the Panthers. The rush defense was abysmal, but the pass defense played just a little bit better. Cam completed 15 of 24 for 215 yards and 2 scores through the air, and did most of that with little help from his top receivers. Steve Smith was held to 3 catches for 52 yards and LaFell didn’t have a catch. The Atlanta secondary has a lot of talent, but they allowed Greg Olsen to go for 84 yards and a score. Carolina focused on the run, so this total could have been higher if they went to the air more.
Atlanta’s offense didn’t skip a beat, which allowed them to stay in this contest. Matt Ryan had another huge game with 363 yards and three scores. This offense has gone to full on pass mode, and it showed once again today. The most impressive Ryan moment came in the final minute. Backed up to their own one yard line, Ryan hurled a deep ball to Roddy White. White went up and grabbed it with defenders draped all over him. Ryan was lucky to have a WR to go and get that ball, but that comes with a lot of trust in your receiver. That one went for 59 yards and allowed Atlanta to continue to move the ball a little closer for Matt Bryant to knock in the game winning FG.
Julio Jones came into this season as the most hyped WR in Atlanta, but Roddy White is still an elite target. He finished this game with 8 catches and 169 yards with 2 TDs. That is an incredible line for the veteran who proved today he still has a lot left in the tank. Jones was held to just 1 catch for 31 yards, but clearly opened up the field for White in this one. This offense can be scary good. Michael Turner had a shockingly good game with 171 total yards, including a 60 yard TD reception. It was a blast from the past for the bruising rusher, but likely not a sign of things to come.
Atlanta is still one of just 3 undefeated teams in the league this year, with Arizona playing in the 4 o’clock games today. They have a great chance to improve to 5-0 next week when the travel to Landover to face the Redskins. They have the Bucs today, so I’ll try to keep an eye on how they perform. RGIII, the rookie phenom, has a similar skillset to Cam Newton, so I expect a similar game plan from the Atlanta defense on this one. They also have one of the weakest pass defenses in the league, so Matt Ryan could be in line for another huge line next Sunday.