Atlanta narrowly escaped the New York Jets in Week 8 with a 25-20 victory, keeping the Falcons within a game back of Carolina for second place in the NFC South.
Atlanta (4-4) had a chance when regaining possession at its own 21-yard line with 2:18 to play. Instead of 20-10, it would have been 20-17, and the way the Falcons were moving the ball in the fourth quarter, anything would have been possible. Funchess had five receptions on seven targets for 86 yards, and was Cam Newton's safety valve at times when the quarterback needed to leave the pocket. In the third quarter, the Falcons had the ball for just three minutes and 15 seconds, gaining a total of seven yards. However, the play that decided the game came on the prior drive by the Falcons when a wide open Julio Jones dropped a pass in the end zone.
Though the Falcons would tack on a Tevin Coleman touchdown late to make things interesting, Atlanta lacked execution in the passing game all day.
For most of the first half of the Panthers' first game since trading Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina's offense didn't amount to much. Here's a breakdown of the offense, defense and special teams units from today's road loss to Carolina.
Even on a team with two former first-round running backs, Newton proved that he is the best ballcarrier on the Panthers.
So at halftime, Carolina led 14-10, despite playing the type of offensive football, at least early, that had fans ready to change the channel.
Newton's 5-yard scramble gave the Panthers the lead with 23 seconds to play. He managed just 13 yards on two punt returns. That resulted in Matt Bryant's 53-yard field goal. Atlanta would hang around until late in the fourth quarter.
An Atlanta win on Sunday would put the Falcons in second place due to the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Panthers.
For the first time this season, Carolina was able to get the Stanford version of Christian McCaffrey, not the 1.5-yards per carry version. WR Brenton Bersin, who rejoined the Panthers during the week, was activated for the game. He also had a sack to increase his seasonal total to 6.5.
In what could be one of the most exciting matchups of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs will travel to AT&T Stadium to face off against the Dallas Cowboys.
Carolina will host its second primetime game in four weeks next Monday as it takes on the Miami Dolphins.
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