The Atlanta Falcons were forced to rally from behind in their 31-17 win against the Carolina Panthers. With this win, the Falcons are now 3-3 and only one game behind both the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South.
Lets take a deeper look at how the offensive and defensive units played in this contest.
The Atlanta Falcons managed to score 31 points against the Panthers (17 of which came in the fourth quarter), making it the third time this season that Atlanta has been able to score more than 30 points.
Prior to this game, Atlanta had lost its offensive identity and struggled with inconsistency in their three losses. Against Carolina, however, the offense as a whole looked like the Falcons from last year. Here are the grades for each unit:
Offensive Line: A-
The offensive line only gave up one sack, and for the most part gave Matt Ryan time in the pocket to throw the ball. The line also created huge running holes which propelled Turner to well over the 100-yard mark.
Ryan had a solid day completing 14-of-22 for 163 yards, 1 touchdown, and no interceptions. He did not do anything special, but also did not do anything to lose the game for the Falcons.
Running Backs: A
Michael Turner showed why he should still be considered a premier back in the NFL as he rushed for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns. He had his best game of the season by far and is a key ingredient for this offense for the rest of the season.
Receiving Core: B-
Tony Gonzalez had the most receptions with three and no one receiver did anything special. They did block well downfield as Turner was able to spring free for a run of 33-yards at one point in the game.
The Falcons' defense struggled a little in the first half and in the beginning of the third quarter as Cam Newton and the Panthers were able to string together some long drives. Here are the grades for each defensive unit:
Defensive Line: A-
Although the defensive line only had two sacks, defensive tackle Corey Peters had one of the most impressive one-handed interceptions by a defensive lineman I have ever seen. Ray Edwards also had a huge sack in the fourth quarter putting a nail in the coffin for Cam Newton and the Panthers.
Sean Weatherspoon was really the only linebacker to get any type of pressure on Cam Newton and the middle of the field was left wide open time and time again. Cam Newton took advantage of this and shredded the middle of the field both with his arm and his legs.
Any time a secondary comes up with two interceptions, especially timely interceptions, it is considered a good day for them. They also held Steve Smith in check by only allowing him five receptions for 66 yards when he had been averaging 121 yards per game heading into the contest.
Hopefully, the Atlanta Falcons found their identity on offense this week as they have a tough test next week vs. the Detroit Lions.
Matt Ryan should keep his attempts under 30 and Turner should hover around the 100-yard rushing mark every week. Ball control is key for the Falcons.
The defense looked solid as they held the Panthers way under their average yard mark coming into the game.
This was a good collective effort for a team that was desperately seeking a win in order to stay in the divisional race.