Falcons need late-heroics to down Panthers 30-28

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez celebrate a 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers to remain undefeated at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez celebrate a 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers to remain undefeated at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

 

After pulling off his latest stunt of late-game magic, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was more than a little stoked.

Ryan’s unlikely 59-yard pass to Roddy White in the closing seconds helped set up a game-winning field goal as the Falcons pulled out a scintillating 30-28 victory over Carolina Sunday. The team improved to 4-0 for just the third time in franchise history and the first time since 2004.

That was quite enough excitement for the usually placid Ryan, who was seen yelling in the general direction of the Panthers “to get the [expletive] off my field” as he made his way off the Georgia Dome turf.

Simmered down later, he admitted, “It was just the heat of the battle.”

Right. But it was that kind of unforgettable day, reminiscent of a win over Chicago in his rookie season of 2008. This time, starting at his own 1-yard line, Ryan drove the Falcons into position for Matt Bryant’s 33-yard field goal with five seconds left. Bryant kick was dead-centered.

“That was a huge game for us and a great win for our team,” Ryan said. “It took us all 60 minutes this week and we knew coming into this game that it was going to be a tough one.”

It was defensive end John Abraham who set up the winning drive with a timely

Falcons running back Michael Turner breaks free for a first down past Carolina Panthers James Anderson, right, and Captain Munnerlyn during the first half at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012

Falcons running back Michael Turner breaks free for a first down past Carolina Panthers James Anderson, right, and Captain Munnerlyn during the first half at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012

forced fumble. On a third-and-2 from Atlanta’s 46, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton had picked up a critical first down on a run, only to have Abraham knock the ball loose and, more importantly, backwards to the 45. The Panthers recovered but after trying to draw the Falcons offsides on fourth-and-1, they elected to punt instead.

Carolina downed Brad Nortman’s punt down at the 1-yard line with 59 seconds left. Atlanta had no timeouts.

“I was surprised,” tight end Tony Gonzalez said about the Panthers not going for it on fourth down. “[Newton] has a big body. He’s long and you thought he’d just quarterback-sneak it. But it would have been a definite gamble.”

Newton, now 0-2 as a Panther playing in his hometown, supported Carolina coach Ron Rivera’s decision to punt.

“Well, I’m a player on this football team and I listen to coaching,” Newton said. “And coach decided not to go for it on fourth down, so I back coach 110 percent.”

The Falcons’ offensive line, which struggled all day, held up at the end as Ryan dropped back to within a yard of the back of the end zone and launched a bomb to the White. He hauled in the pass over Carolina safety Haruki Nakamura at the Panthers 40.

Atlanta Falcons defenders Ray Edwards (clockwise from upper left), William Moore, Akeem Dent and Stephen Nicholas gang tackle Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert during second half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Atlanta Falcons defenders Ray Edwards (clockwise from upper left), William Moore, Akeem Dent and Stephen Nicholas gang tackle Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert during second half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

After Gonzalez and Harry Douglas took quick receptions and got out of bounds for consecutive gains of 7 and 6 yards, Bryant was sent out to win the game.

“It’s very good to know that you’ll be able to handle the ebbs and flows of an NFL football game,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “It was just a matter of time before we were going to have to play from behind. … I thought it showed the mettle of the guys in that room.”

It was remarkable that Ryan had time to throw long. Carolina’s pass rush had been relentless, sacking Ryan a career-high seven times and accumulating 12 quarterbacks hits.

“He came into the huddle and said, ‘Block it up so that we can make a big play,’” White said. “Those guys are focused. They did a hell of a job.”

White, who had eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns, used some crafty route-running to get open.

“They were trying to keep everything in front of them, but the guy kind of missed a jam when I went out there,” White said. “I got behind those guys.”

White also sensed that Ryan was coming his way.

“He told me to go get it,” White said. “So I knew he was throwing it to me.”

The Panthers, who hadn’t played since being routed by the New York Giants 36-7 on Sept. 20, played a rough-and-tumble game. For the second straight game against the Falcons, they had them on the ropes, but failed late. Last season in Charlotte, Carolina held a 23-7 halftime lead on Atlanta before losing 31-23.

“It was a good lesson to learn,” White said. “A lot of these games are going to be close. When you get an opportunity to move on as team, you do it and you carry a lot of confidence with you.”

The division foes went back-and-forth most of the game. White’s two touchdown catches gave the Falcons a 17-14 halftime lead. That advantage grew to 24-14 on the first possession of the second half, Ryan tossing a screen pass to Michael Turner, who rumbled for 60 yards and the first touchdown reception of his NFL career.

But Carolina answered on its next possession with a 4-yard touchdown run by Newton to make it 24-21. Asked to compete harder by Rivera after the Giants embarrassment, the Panthers were up for the challenge, adding an 81-yard touchdown drive to take a 28-24 lead, Kealoha Pilares scoring from 36 yards out with 7:55 left.

Bryant, who had already connected from 41 yards, kicked a 33-yard field goal with 2:58 to shave the lead to one point and set up his final heroics. He has yet to miss a field goal in nine attempts thus far.

317 comments Add your comment

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
4:32 pm

Get Cam some tissue

mtgummibear

September 30th, 2012
4:33 pm

Packer James

September 30th, 2012
4:33 pm

James is switching call signs.

nuclearjim

September 30th, 2012
4:36 pm

Nicely done.

nuclearjim

September 30th, 2012
4:37 pm

He is an arrogant man – and his talent may some day justify that arrogance. But not yet.

Jordan

September 30th, 2012
4:37 pm

I’m starting to believe that this might be THE YEAR!!!

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
4:38 pm

That was the best football game I have seen in a very long,long, time……..anyone think the Falcon’s aren’t for real now and Matt Ryan has a noodle arm and can’t deliver………………well, all I can say to them is they have some serious issues in their heads…………………..

4 – 0 baby……………..we are rolling,onwards and upwards..one game at a time ! ! ! ! !

nuclearjim

September 30th, 2012
4:38 pm

Newton that is…….

BTCV

September 30th, 2012
4:38 pm

Damn. I mean…DAMN….

The Falcons need to stop this “Cardiac Kids” thing. But then again, a win is a win….

Durt E. Byrd

September 30th, 2012
4:38 pm

Kudos to the Falcons for winning a tough game, Hats off to the Panthers, they played a heck of a game. It just goes to show you how dangerous “down” can be.

Great game.

Falcons 4-0 : The Latest Fuzz

September 30th, 2012
4:40 pm

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

charles

September 30th, 2012
4:41 pm

Wow! What a great win to stay unbeaten!

BTCV

September 30th, 2012
4:42 pm

Rhetorical Thoughts of the day:

Will Mike Smith get fined by the NFL for losing his composure there at the end & swattin’ that other (Falcon) coach?

Does anybody still wish Steve Spagnola was our DC?

Why am I out of beer?

Where are my pants?

KCDC

September 30th, 2012
4:43 pm

Micheal Turner is BACK!! CAN’T STOP THE ‘HOCKS!!!!

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
4:43 pm

Congratulations to all the Falcons………….Super win in the Dome !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The 2012 undefeated 4 – 0 Atlanta Falcons !

Kd

September 30th, 2012
4:44 pm

This ain’t no cardiac kids!!!!! This the real Effin deal! Rise up! Real teams show up, anybody can win a blowout, but a come behind no timeouts minute left win is special!!!

myrak43

September 30th, 2012
4:45 pm

Michael Turner is almost looking good as he did when he first came to Atlanta. if he keeps this up we will be hard for anyone to beat. but Charles Johnson was kicking our AZZEZ!!!! we have to address that.

Trevor

September 30th, 2012
4:46 pm

woww!Matt to roddy is something serious! 4-0 panthers did play well tho falcons rise up this looks like a special year. Plz tackles step up been playn well but 7 sacks rebound nxt week

AJC - You're PATHETIC

September 30th, 2012
4:46 pm

The UNDEFEATED Falcons played an entire game of football today while the PATHETIC AJC posted not ONE single photo of any Falcon until THIS article.

Great Falconi

September 30th, 2012
4:47 pm

Ol’ Noodle Arm was flinging that ball around at the end. Roddy made a play. Bryant stuck it between the posts.

Smitty will say we have a lot of corrections to make. He’s right.

Awesome win.

BTCV

September 30th, 2012
4:47 pm

Uhhh…yeah, kd….

Cardiac Kids simply means they pull it out at the very last minute; giving their fans a slight sense of panic. Personally, I prefer a blow-out. Shows dominance.

officeregjoe

September 30th, 2012
4:47 pm

cam is really going to sulk now as his fumble essentially lost his team the game!

Big Ray

September 30th, 2012
4:47 pm

That game was a true nailbiter.

But the Falcons needed to have a game like that. One with some adversity.

Negative Nellys…yeah, you just got a chance to talk ish squashed right in your face.

As for those questioning Ryan’s arm strength…ummm…watch Sportscenter if ESPN has the balls to play it (I know they hate Matty Ice and the Falcons)…that was 60 yards through the air on the pass to Roddy White..out of the end zone no less.

Dude is a cold blooded assassin and the Falcons simply found a way to win.

4-0. It is what it is.

puff

September 30th, 2012
4:49 pm

The main thing that’s super about Cam is that he’s super easy to dislike. What a super moment when he fumbled away the game clinching first down. Love watching him looking all pouty.

Falcons found a way after getting outplayed, sign of a winner.

Big Ray

September 30th, 2012
4:50 pm

For those of you whining about blowouts….we gave up 7 or 8 sacks….

Just like Green Bay did last week. You think they would have been happy to come out of that game with a win, or would there be whining about blowouts?

Sometimes the games are tough and close, the other team simply plays its butt off. But you find a way to win, and you take it….work on what needs work, and get ready for next week.

Take the f’in win. Green Bay sure would have….and they played horrible.

Mike Franklin

September 30th, 2012
4:50 pm

Was an ugly game and one that should be a learning tool for the future; never take a losing team lightly and never expect to win against ANY one.

Hat tip to the Panthers for a great game. They played to win and almost did.

Time to move on.

BTCV

September 30th, 2012
4:50 pm

No argument there, Big Ray…

4-0 is 4 & 0!

Matt "I got your Noodle" Ryan

September 30th, 2012
4:50 pm

Matt Ryan turning into an ELITE QUARTERBACK!

Trevor

September 30th, 2012
4:52 pm

cold blooded assasin- big ray right on the money!this game was just as nice as back in 08 when they beat the bears

Mike Franklin

September 30th, 2012
4:53 pm

Aints @ GB knotted at 7

TCFATL

September 30th, 2012
4:53 pm

Why isn’t Scam dancing now?

Matt "I got your Noodle" Ryan

September 30th, 2012
4:54 pm

Big Ray

September 30th, 2012
4:54 pm

Cam’s arrogance helped lose the game for Carolina. Or maybe it was the coach’s play call.

Either way, our defense made the play on a guy looking to cut our throats with his legs. Shoulda handed off to a RB. But he didn’t. And we made him pay by trying to beat us the best way he knows how.

We win. Case closed.

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
4:54 pm

Big Ray ?………………. ” Matty Ice Ryan, the Assassin ! “…………………….great nick to label for Ryan………………….I love it !

2DPointAtlanta

September 30th, 2012
4:54 pm

You guys pushed my blood pressure to the limit.
Couldn’t even watch the final two minutes, figuring the game would be lost.
Thank goodness y’all pulled it out.
Michael Turner…..you’re getting your good graces back!

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
4:56 pm

On that field goal…………….I am being honest……………I turned away, I couldn’t watch it…………………………………lmao………………….

Mike Franklin

September 30th, 2012
4:56 pm

@2DPointAtlanta – Can identify with the blood pressure thing. My old lady was on my butt to step away so I’d be around to fill the chair at dinner tonight, lol.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR (aka Go Jackets)

September 30th, 2012
4:57 pm

Cam really played well….not a fan of the guy, but I’m feelin kharma inserted herself in this game.

Marco

September 30th, 2012
4:57 pm

Offensive line sucked, as usual. Pass defense wasn’t so good either. Lucky to win this one.

Great Falconi

September 30th, 2012
4:57 pm

It was good to see the fire from Ryan over on the sideline after Bryant hit the FG. I may be wrong, but I detected multiple expletives directed toward the opposition. I think a lot of us were doing that, too.

kevin

September 30th, 2012
4:58 pm

what did matt ryan say when the camera was on him after the falcons won? does anybody know?

harleyman

September 30th, 2012
4:58 pm

Wow! What a great comeback win. Reminds me of the win over the Bears a couple three years ago. Now, some food for thought. How helpful were the replacement refs with protecting Matt Ryan? I mean we went from zero sacks in three games to seven today. Get my drift? Secondly, a review of Cam’s running touchdown on my DVR showed his knee was down before ball crossed goal line. The offensive pass interference on touchdown in the first quarter prior to Ryan’s interception was a little cheesy. The Panther’s downing the ball on the one at the end was questionable as well.

Joe

September 30th, 2012
4:58 pm

A good team fights hard, a great team never quit. GO Falcons.

tom

September 30th, 2012
4:59 pm

Wish I had been there. Falcons are for real this season. Compliments to the new coordinators and the players.

Cam

September 30th, 2012
4:59 pm

But I had more style points.

Falconsfanforlifewinorlose

September 30th, 2012
4:59 pm

And the Falcons showed ajc why they shouldn’t have been “tracking” CAM…Matt Ryan should have been the conversation!!!!!

old fart

September 30th, 2012
4:59 pm

Wow! 7 sacks and we still win. Matty Ice is the real deal and so are the rest of this team.

DePlane

September 30th, 2012
5:00 pm

Hats off to the incredible Roddy White! Vintage Matt Ryan in his 16 game winning drive! Props to Turner today for an excellent game. Whew! What a nail biter!!

4-0 kinda says it all!

Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat….

Hey Falcons D

September 30th, 2012
5:00 pm

Dance on that Cammy

Matty Bicep

September 30th, 2012
5:01 pm

Screw Cam, he’s a loser. Ryan now 3-0 against him.