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

Laughing out Loud

September 30th, 2012
5:50 pm

Style points only count in Hollywood, we should be happy with “w’s” any day. Great nailbitting game which ended just fine for the Falcons and the fans! Coaches are smart enough to figure out what needs to be fixed.

Go Deep

September 30th, 2012
5:51 pm

SCFalcon

September 30th, 2012
5:53 pm

Nice gut check win. Our birds never folded the tent. It was suppose to be easy to run on the Panthers. I wonder if the focus this week on the run hurt our pass protection? Just a thought. I hope this is not a pattern for the O line.

Newton needs to get his attitude in line. If I were the coach I would forbid any celbrations on his part till he wins a playoff game. If you want to dance, go on one of those dorky TV shows……. Act like you’ve been there before!

Now back the Packers vs Aint’s……

Disappointed

September 30th, 2012
5:56 pm

Great win for the Falcons but I was very disappointed to see Coach Mike Smith push/hit one of his own assistants — on tv for everyone to see — I thought he was a better person than that — he should be held accountable for it — and he owes a MAJOR APOLOGY to the assistant. Someone at the AJC should find out about this unacceptable behavior.

FalconsRiseUp!

September 30th, 2012
5:58 pm

I too was wondering what Matty was screaming on the sideline after the Bryant FG looks like he said “Yeah! Get the F#%k off our field!”

grand sport

September 30th, 2012
6:04 pm

better to win by 3 than lose by 3.
Way to Go Boys!

Decatur joe

September 30th, 2012
6:04 pm

I loved every sec of it. “Get the f*** off our field!!!!”

They call me "SuperMan"

September 30th, 2012
6:04 pm

Where de bus at?

Where's CHOKE?

September 30th, 2012
6:05 pm

Good riddance, wherever he disappeared to.

Matt "Clutch" Ryan

September 30th, 2012
6:05 pm

Where’s the loon who has the account called Matt “Choke” Ryan? What do you have to say now?

Samuel

September 30th, 2012
6:06 pm

What an awsome win- offensive line inspite of giving up eight sacks, made enough plays to get us the win. Turner and white played one hell of a game. Defense made plays when it counted. Dirk Koetter made a gusty call on the one yard line. Unlike Mularky he’s very creative and he has that killer instinct. Go Falcons!

DeWayne G.

September 30th, 2012
6:06 pm

Why do the white coach of the Falcons push the black coach at the end of the game? That straight up racist right there. I hope he get a fines and a suspinsion from the NFL.

Dirty Bird

September 30th, 2012
6:08 pm

Great win for us. Hey, everyone can use a little adversity. This is the NFL, after all. Not every game will be a blowout win. Man, Roddy balled out, Turner found his old self, and Ryan is the MVP of the first quarter of the season. And shoot, if Julio drags that second foot on his catch, we would have put it away earlier.

WHAT?

September 30th, 2012
6:09 pm

DeWayne G. – You can’t be serious. What difference does it make what color the coach was? You don’t know the circumstances, so keep the race card up your sleeve.

Matt "Clutch" Ryan

September 30th, 2012
6:10 pm

DeWayne G.- I hope you’re kidding. Mike Smith was just excited to get the right people in for the final play. Calm down.

DeWayne G.

September 30th, 2012
6:12 pm

@ What. Coach Smith would not shove a white coach. He only shoved the black coach because he black. You know that the truth. What if Arthur Blank shove Mike Smith? Then what you be saying. Mike Smith owe an apology to the black coach and black people. TODAY.

Still Gritz Blitz'n

September 30th, 2012
6:14 pm

Cammy still had some gritz blitz’n that is his kryptonite, oh yeah, choke, you choke’n on this aint’cha bud, poor o’l choke, Matt’s a choke’n ya everytime he wins. You just can’t take it anymore, choke.

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
6:15 pm

Matt "Clutch" Ryan

September 30th, 2012
6:15 pm

DeWayne G. – On that logic, Aaron Rodgers has to apologize to camermen and media all over the world for pushing the camera away at the end of the MNF last week.

Observer

September 30th, 2012
6:17 pm

DeWayne sound like a white guy tryin’ to make fun of the way black folk talk, and a troll.

DeWayne G.

September 30th, 2012
6:18 pm

No you wrong. Rogers push away a camera not a black man doing his job. Do you not think Coach Smith owe an apology to the black coach and black people. I wonder what he do in the locker room when they no TV cameras around?

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
6:19 pm

The REFS are still bad. They maybe PROs but they have made crappy calls in every game I have seen today. The 1st Carolina D was holding so bad.
Green bay has been jobbed on 2 reviews too.

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
6:22 pm

DeWayne G……………the same thing Obama does to Muslim leaders when nobody is around to Photograph it. He gets out his knee pads and gets to work.

DeWayne G.

September 30th, 2012
6:27 pm

@ 5150 You a racist like Mike Smith. Bad news for you is Obama gonna be reelected again and they aint nothing you and Mike Smith can do about it. What you think about that whitey?

FalconsRiseUp!

September 30th, 2012
6:29 pm

DeWayne is most likely white and obviously a troll. Dont feed the trolls people!

JoFo

September 30th, 2012
6:33 pm

nuclearjim

nuclearjim, you said, “he is an arrogant man – and his talent may some day justify that arrogance. But not yet.” To that, I say, AMEN! and pass the grits! He actually embarrasses me but, what is so sad is that he is so immature that he does not embarrass himself!!!!

P.S. Even with everything the the aINTS have done, they still cheat!!!

RTR22

September 30th, 2012
6:36 pm

Keep on dancin’ SCAM the Cam

skyrock714

September 30th, 2012
6:36 pm

Stay hungry and humble!!!! Still a long way to go but nice strong finish when you’re not playing your best!!!!!!

The Big Fat Blogger

September 30th, 2012
6:37 pm

That was a great game today, one of the best games I have seen in a while, similar to that bears game a few years ago…. Congrats to the Falcons for winning against a desperate team that was trying to restore their pride. Prior to the game, I was telling a few friends that this was a “trap” game, Carolina was coming into the Dome today to make a point after the embarrassment against the giants last week. I believe a lot of Fans have now forgiven Turner after a slow start, he played his heart out! Ryan, White… Still the best combination in Football. Defense, held on for dear life, wonderful team effort. Now let’s go into Washington (I think that is the next game??) and whomp some azzzzz……

Maria

September 30th, 2012
6:41 pm

Hey Cam – If you can’t back-up your obnoxious dancing and other antics, why don’t you just knock it off? It’s getting kind of old.
GO FALCONS!!!!

Gerald

September 30th, 2012
6:41 pm

You folks bashing Cam Newton are hilarious.
A) You’re mad that the guy won a national title for Auburn that you UGA fans haven’t had since Herschel.
B) You know that if Cam and Ryan were to switch teams, Cam would be outstanding – or at least would have won a playoff game – and Ryan would have no chance. Give Cam Julio Jones, Roddy White, Anthony Gonzalez, Michael Turner and an actual defense instead of an aging Steve Smith and a bunch of backups and they’d burn up the league. Meanwhile, Ryan would look no better than Jimmy Clausen in Carolina. You give Ryan credit for “being a winner” when all he did was throw the ball straight up in the air and let a Pro Bowl WR make a play against a rookie 5th round pick CB.
C) You are looking in the rearview mirror. Last year Atlanta’s defense made Newton look foolish. He couldn’t read defenses or make good decisions, and basically could only throw downfield to Smith and make checkdowns. But today, Newton played great, and against an improved and more complex defense, even with Smith held largely in check. Instead of a sophomore slump, he has thrown for 1000 yards and is his team’s leading rusher. The guy is a player, is getting better, and only needs more experience and a better team around him. He’s going to torment you guys for the next 12-13 years and you all know it. Yes, his team is 1-3, but because they have played Tampa, the Giants, the Saints and the Falcons … 3 division games (2 on the road) and 2 games against playoff teams. Not only will they be a factor in future years, but they aren’t totally out of it this year, when they will have more games against the likes of Washington, Seattle, Oakland, Kansas City etc., not to mention Atlanta and Tampa Bay making trips to Carolina.

To put it another way … no one celebrates like this over beating Blaine Gabbert and Kevin Kolb. You Falcons fans are crowing like this because you know that Newton can play, which means that you won’t be crowing for much longer.

panic fan

September 30th, 2012
6:42 pm

Great TEAM win today but in watching this game it was very apparent that we had to over come more than just the other team, welcome back to the refs but they need to watch the line play Funny the folks that try to make anything that happens black and white same colors on the zebra uniforms not even 1 holding call

gabugman

September 30th, 2012
6:43 pm

Sweet!

Who’s getting arrested tonight?

Maria

September 30th, 2012
6:44 pm

Gerald – you are kidding; right? Cam – Auburn rent-a-player.

gabugman

September 30th, 2012
6:46 pm

Come back in the next 12-13 years when Cam actually has done something and then you can declare your man-crush, Gerald.

Baby Punting

September 30th, 2012
6:47 pm

If those misdemeanors are what it takes to get a win each week, I’m all for them.

rm

September 30th, 2012
6:47 pm

Gerald, you sound like your team just lost a game…

Gerald

September 30th, 2012
6:50 pm

Maria:

The fact that you are talking about Cam instead of the other 52 players on that team proves me right. You guys know that Cam can play. Just wait until the Panthers get him a Julio Jones and Roddy White to throw to, and doesn’t make him cover for the worst rushing defense in the NFL (and not a very good passing defense either). Again, let Ryan and Newton switch teams. The Falcons are still 4-0 and the Panthers go 2-14 at best. Which means that when Newton gets the personnel in Carolina that Ryan enjoys now, the Falcons and the rest of the league is in a heap of trouble. You all know that it is true. Just admit it.

rm

September 30th, 2012
6:51 pm

You can have Cam…ill take Ryan any day with any team around him than a bigger version of mike vick. Wait till cam’s cat fighting scandal comes out…dude fights cats

Baby Punting

September 30th, 2012
6:51 pm

Gerald, I don’t blame you for not knowing this, but when Matt Ryan was drafted, that team was projected to go 4-12. MR2 led them to the playoffs.

What’s Cam’s record? This year?

Gerald

September 30th, 2012
6:52 pm

gabugman:

You are speaking as if Matt Ryan has actually done something. Matt Ryan: zero ACC titles. Matt Ryan: zero playoff victories. What you are saying would make sense if you rooted for Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers or even Alex Smith. You don’t. So wait until your QB does something. Your QB, who has been in the NFL and on a better team for more than twice as long as Newton has. And by the way … great win yesterday for Middle Tennessee State, wasn’t it, bug fan?

FalconsFan #13

September 30th, 2012
6:53 pm

WOW, Roddy this week, always steady Tony and even Michael Turner catching a touchdown pass, Look out NFL fans, the Falcons Air Force is coming to a city near you.

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
6:53 pm

IF Carolina gets the personal? They will be like the Dream team Eagles of last year and collapse under the EGO of CAM.

Baby Punting

September 30th, 2012
6:55 pm

Gerald, you’re right. We, falcons fans, wish we had Mike Vick or Cam rather than Matt Ryan… NOT!

Tanking the season is great way to get you some great players, you are talking about. Good luck. LOL

shorty

September 30th, 2012
6:57 pm

Luck and alot of home cooking..and by the way were those the replacement refs?

FalconFanInVt

September 30th, 2012
6:57 pm

142 nd!!! Thank You Matt Bryant

Baby Punting

September 30th, 2012
6:58 pm

I guess GB’s anger lasted about a half. You can’t lose to 0-3 team, can you, Discount Doublecheck?

rm

September 30th, 2012
6:59 pm

Gerald, take your own advice please. My lord your man crush is embarrassing. Cam hasn’t done a thing. If you think his college record means anything in the NFL u are a fool. Sounds like you root for a man…cortection, a kid and not a team. Take cam bro. We will take our qb, our team and our 4-0 record. Man you are a sore loser

Baby Face Killa

September 30th, 2012
6:59 pm

Get the &$@# off my field!!!

America’s Bad Boy
Matt Ryan

I have to agree

September 30th, 2012
7:01 pm

Gerald… great points. all of them. it’s hard to give a qb much credit to hail marys.

I think we benefit greatly from the fact Carolina’s coaching staff isn’t that great. but theyre getting better. id tame cam over Ryan any day. unless he fumbles a game winning first down. I’ve seen Ryan do worse.

we’ve got some time before Carolina catches up, so we out to enjoy it.