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October 16, 2011

Game story: Falcons 31, Panthers 17

By Ron Green Jr.

The Charlotte Observer

ATLANTA - Another Sunday, another disappointment.

Despite having a fourth-quarter lead, the Carolina Panthers couldn't make it last as they lost 31-17 today to the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons took advantage of a pair of costly pass interference calls in the end zone and a late interception by quarterback Cam Newton to beat the Panthers.

The loss was the third straight for the Panthers (1-5) who return home next week begin a three-game homestand with a game against Washington.

"You want to win. You want to win. You get tired of hearing you're close," Panthers safety Charles Godfrey said. "Until we bite down and come out and play winning football we're not going to get the win.

"It's not going to get easier for us. We have to know that as a team and we have to come together."

Atlanta took the lead midway through the final quarter, grinding out a 60-yard touchdown drive that resulted in a 1-yard Matt Ryan sneak that gave the Falcons a 24-17 lead. The big play was a 34-yard completion from Ryan to Harry Douglas that moved Atlanta to the Carolina 13.

Trailing by seven, Newton made a critical mistake when his screen pass intended for DeAngelo Williams was snagged one-handed by Falcons' defensive lineman Corey Peters at the Carolina 39 with less than six minutes remaining, submarining a potential tying drive.

"We have to keep fighting, every play, every down. We need to do it more consistently. That's our problem right now. We don't finish fighting," cornerback Chris Gamble said.

The Panthers outgained Atlanta 368-325 but three turnovers and critical mistakes on third down hurt them.

Newton finished with 21 completions in 35 attempts for 236 yards with three interceptions. His 44.6 percent quarterback rating was the lowest of his rookie season.

Carolina produced one of its best sustained drives of the season to open the second half, burning 8:32 off the clock on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a 14-yard scramble for a touchdown by Newton that gave the Panthers a 17-14 lead.

Four times in the drive, the Panthers converted third down opportunities, the final coming on Newton's touchdown run. Jonathan Stewart had an 11-yard reception on third down to keep the chains moving during the drive.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Falcons were on the Carolina 2-yard line when Charles Johnson sacked Matt Ryan, forcing the Falcons to settle for a 24-yard Matt Bryant field goal that tied the game 17-17 with 14:12 remaining.

The Panthers trailed 14-10 at halftime after a late interception killed their chance of taking a lead into the locker room.

A late second-quarter drive flamed out when Newton's pass from the 10-yard line to an open Steve Smith in the end zone was deflected by Atlanta's William Moore and intercepted by Brent Grimes who returned it 25 yards with 30 seconds left in the half.

The Panthers had moved quickly downfield, helped by a roughing the passer call and a 13-yard Newton scramble that gave Carolina a first-and-10 from the Falcons' 10.

Carolina led twice in the first half -- 3-0 on an early 42-yard Olindo Mare field goal and 10-7 after a one-yard run by Jonathan Stewart early in the second quarter -- but the Panthers had trouble getting the Falcons' offense off the field.

The Falcons had touchdown drives of 80 and 81 yards in building their 14-10 advantage.

Posted by Observer Sports on October 16, 2011 at 08:21 PM | Permalink


I'm surprised to be saying this but the Panthers will struggle to win 4 games. The defense is just pathetic, we don't have a single DT that can make a play, they can't get off the field on 3rd down, can't tackle consistently, can't ever stop the run, and generally looked confused.
I would have expected Rivera to do a better job with the defense. Yes, they have injuries but they look horrible and they're not getting better.
They've had training camp, preseason and 6 weeks of play and they have made zero progress on defense, ZERO. I hope Rivera is a better defensive coach but so far I don't see any evidence of it.

Posted by: Kenny | Oct 16, 2011 9:35:27 PM

Panther's suck for Luck! Third time is a charm!

Posted by: gmoney | Oct 16, 2011 9:35:45 PM

Please, post an educated comment. Luck will NEVER play for the Panthers. Newton has played better than any rookie QB in history and he's the least of the Panther's problems. Stop showing your stupidity by talking about Luck being a Panther, it will never happen.

Posted by: Kenny | Oct 16, 2011 10:04:10 PM


I agree with you that luck will never be a panther, but there is a QB/rapist up in pittsburgh that might argue with you about that "better than any rookie QB in history" comment. In no way am I a steelers fan!!! I promise!!!

Posted by: jason wilmington | Oct 16, 2011 11:39:30 PM

Sorry but I'm in Boston. New England pro football teams are so much more better than Charlotte's and I can't understand why because I grew up in the Queen City. What's happening guys other than Tom Brady is selling his house in Boston?

What's up with the Panthers?

Posted by: WilliamM | Oct 17, 2011 12:06:09 AM

Rivera needs to start calling players out on Defense. As plain jane as Fox was, he would at least hold the players accountable and was never afraid to call them out. Rivera is not here to make friends, but to win games. He needs to start acting with alittle more sense of urgency, IMO.

Posted by: RobertH | Oct 17, 2011 12:30:41 AM

Wow, I don't remember Fox calling out anyone. He was such a player's coach it was laughable. I do agree that Rivera seems to lack the willingness to get angry. He said that he would get into a players face if needed but I don't see it. Maybe he knows that his guys are just not capable, so he would rather be a cheerleader.
5 DT's on this team and none of them can play, at least not yet, and that's where all the problems on defense start, if you're weak in the middle then everything else falls apart.

Posted by: Kenny | Oct 17, 2011 1:37:32 AM

Teams have fixed Newbie going long and all he can do now other than scramble is pop short TE dumps getting way too obvious. Frax fibula limbs or neck getting real close now. Qbs dont run in the NFL long. Just keep the ambulance engines running.

Even non-fans trying to help in sympathy. What a mess.

Tell raghead no more slop dance in the end zone. In spite of idiot hype, clown acts are reserved for winners only.

Suddenly all other Qbs like Drew Matt and the good guys are looking like the All-Pros they really are.

Where's All-Pro Anderson? NFL will spot a couple freebies at the end after the playoff teams are picked but thats still 6 weeks away. Losers seasons always too long.

Posted by: unrestricted free agent non-fan | Oct 17, 2011 8:44:26 AM

As much as I hate to say it, if your coach wasnt stupid enough to start two rookie DT's all season there's a chance your defense would played better against the run so that Scam Newton wont have be force to carry the team.

Posted by: falconsfan1 | Oct 17, 2011 12:23:23 PM

I always heard if it aint boke dont fix it. The Defense was good last year under Ron Meeks. Mcdermott got fired last year bc his defense in Philly looks like the panthers look now. They should let Meeks call the defense. Hes still a coach on the team. And we have a better defense on paper than we did last yr.

Posted by: Napoleon34 | Oct 17, 2011 12:57:36 PM

I always heard if it aint boke dont fix it. The Defense was good last year under Ron Meeks. Mcdermott got fired last year bc his defense in Philly looks like the panthers look now. They should let Meeks call the defense. Hes still a coach on the team. And we have a better defense on paper than we did last yr.

Posted by: Napoleon34 | Oct 17, 2011 12:57:36 PM

Thats a great point Napoleon43...I agree with you 100%. Ron Meeks is much more experienced too. They should give him a little more freedom than what he has right now. The defense is most definitely the weak area of our team. I know with each and every loss we're guaranteed a higher draft pick but, I'd rather this team gain the invaluable confidence of winning 6-7 games because we can easily get a good DT outside the top 10!

Posted by: T-Mac | Oct 18, 2011 1:49:16 AM

Meeks was no Dick LeBeau and the defense here has not scared anyone since 2006! Meeks ran Fox's system which was the same when Trgovic ran it for him. It's a very passive system that keeps everything in front. Under Fox the coordinators were puppets.

In the preseason we had the DB's playing up on the line more and not letting recievers run free. Not sure why they got away from that in the last two weeks, but it's not working and any change is good.

Posted by: Sportsdon | Oct 18, 2011 8:27:49 AM

I only said: Kevin Greene or Jack Del Rio.

CAPERS I miss you.

Posted by: rodrigo | Oct 18, 2011 9:20:29 AM

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