It has been said that in the NFL they don’t ask you how, they you ask how many.
The game saw the Falcons get a big lead, then give it up, followed by a game-winning drive for the ages. As with every game in the National Football League there are winners and losers, even on the winning team.
Matt Ryan/Roddy White: One connection, one result; VICTORY. On first down from their own one-yard-line Ryan and White connected on a 59-yard pass to set the foundation for the game-winning drive. On the day Matt Ryan completed 25 of 40 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns, two of which were to White, who tallied 8 receptions for 169 yards and the two scores.
Michael Turner: Without question the game’s star. As I mentioned Friday, I felt improvement in the running game was a key for the Falcons to win this game. Turner rushed 13 times for 103 yards and added a 60-yard touchdown reception on another of what has become a vaunted Atlanta screen game.
Matt Bryant: Bryant has long been one the NFL’s most consistent kickers and his three field goals from 41, 33 and 40 yards were huge in Atlanta’s victory.
The Falcons’ defense: The numbers tell the story: 404 total yards (199 rushing, 205 passing), 21 first downs and 28 points.
While Mike Nolan’s defense wasn’t dominated, the Panthers certainly didn’t face much legitimate push-back either. Cam Newton accounted for three of Carolina’s touchdowns; two passing, one rushing.
The Falcons also continued their disturbing trend of giving up big yardage on the ground and before Newton’s fumble, the Panthers were running the football to victory with relative ease.
The Falcons’ pass protection: Coming into the game the Falcons had allowed only four sacks total through their first three games; on Sunday they allowed seven; the final two killing the chance to take the lead on consecutive fourth quarter drives. Atlanta won and Matt Ryan is healthy, but the offensive line took a big step back against Carolina.