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

Baby Punting

September 30th, 2012
7:03 pm

Gerald, if you’re a Cam or Carolina fan, go gloat how great he/they will be after tanking this season and get some players with high draft picks on Panthers’ blog. We just had a unbelievable come back win. Let us enjoy the win, can ya??

I have to agree

September 30th, 2012
7:03 pm

and if this game was any indication, we are still on our way to a 1 and done playoff appearance.

gabugman

September 30th, 2012
7:03 pm

“You are speaking as if Matt Ryan has actually done something”

Best winning percentage of any NFL QB the last four years. That sir is something I will take over “potential” any day.

Maria

September 30th, 2012
7:09 pm

Gerald-I understand it’s a team effort in the NFL, but thanks so much for you insight.
What does an ACC title have to do with anything?
You can’t possibly think a college title necessarily translates into NFL success-or maybe you do.
When Matt Ryan came to the Falcons, they were a mess – did you forget that?? He still won.
Cam Newton has done nothing.
Check the Charlotte papers – they are already throwing him under the bus.
GO FALCONS!

Spiro T

September 30th, 2012
7:10 pm

Stifle it, you nattering nabobs of negativity. Go Falcons!!!

Ricnic

September 30th, 2012
7:11 pm

Big Ray they (espn/ every other show) will say Ryan was throwing it up for grabs… Plus when you come into the BEST team in the leagues house you better bring your “A” game.. The Panthers get a B- . Falcons #1

Maria

September 30th, 2012
7:13 pm

I missed post-game radio-any word on Julio’s hand?.

Only one winless team left in NFC

September 30th, 2012
7:17 pm

Come on Caints, you can lose this to go to 0-4! Snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

bp

September 30th, 2012
7:18 pm

Matty hates to lose. That is all I need to know.

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
7:23 pm

The OLD refs are no better than the replacement refs……Green Bat has been Jobbed all day on calls.

Answer this

September 30th, 2012
7:23 pm

Great to be king! Still whistling!

rm

September 30th, 2012
7:25 pm

Green Bay got hoses again. Horrible call on the fumble. Guess the saints need all the help they can get. Little darlings that they are…

Only one winless team left in NFC

September 30th, 2012
7:25 pm

Regular refs, replacement refs, Green Bay simply has ref troubles! Hope they beat the Caints anyway.

easynow

September 30th, 2012
7:29 pm

The birds Lost in EVERY catagory EXCEPT the one that counts and that my friend is the W column!!

Question?! why can’t we play the Whole game like we did the last minute??????

bp

September 30th, 2012
7:36 pm

How about props to Matt B. Clutch.

rm

September 30th, 2012
7:36 pm

Aints just missed a fg… They might have a real ling year

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
7:36 pm

Ok Green Bay get a 1st down and add to the Aints pain. Screw the REFS and just finish it.

Kramer

September 30th, 2012
7:37 pm

Looks like the Packers have been playing to the level of the Saints today and could lose to a bad team. Poor saints.

Pat

September 30th, 2012
7:37 pm

Cam is the same as Vick, great running ability, terrible arm, and even worse attitude. How about you celebrate when there is something to celebrate, but you need to win first, haha. Go Falcons

falconfan4ever

September 30th, 2012
7:40 pm

Great win today. Not a pretty win but it is a win. Glad to see we can win, when all cyclinders are not clicking. Correct our mistakes and move on to next week. RISE UP AND KICK A#@ !!!!!!

Packer James

September 30th, 2012
7:43 pm

And the Saint is still OhFur!!!! Blahhaahhahhahha!!!!

James switching call sign back to Falcon!!

TossSweep

September 30th, 2012
7:43 pm

Cam Newton is an arrogant $h!….head. Glad he’s going home with is panther tail between his legs. He can do his dance on the charter plane back home.

Only one winless team left in NFC

September 30th, 2012
7:44 pm

Saints lose again! We have Seen This B4. Falcons 4-0, Caints 0-4. This better than a Red Rider BB Gun on Christmas morning.

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
7:44 pm

Somebody get Seen and MCR some Tissue!

John

September 30th, 2012
7:44 pm

The Falcons organization made several smart moves this off season that are paying huge dividends now. Thank You Dirk, Mike and Pat.

DC Dirty Bird

September 30th, 2012
7:47 pm

Great win….too many sacks. We have to fix this before we tangle with the the NFC East teams.

TossSweep

September 30th, 2012
7:47 pm

Gerald, you’re riding Cam’s coattail because you have nothing else to say. Your freakin’ team lost and all you can brag about is your boyfriend Cam Newton. Sad and pathetic fool.

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
7:47 pm

All Saint fans join us with a song…..
“…..Soy un perdedor/I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?

ROTF LMAO!!!

As Jimmy Johnson said this morning…Put a fork in em. They Done!!!

Blah ha ha ha ha

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
7:52 pm

Tampa Bay need some Tissue too.

Tissue getting passed out all around our division.!

Except Atlanta! LOL

GregKennesaw

September 30th, 2012
7:54 pm

Great Game Falcons! 4-0 baby! Your Atlanta Falcons have won twice as many games as the other 3 teams in the NFC South combined! Caint’s lost, we took care of superman, and Tampa just lost on field goal with 3 seconds left!

Loyalfan

September 30th, 2012
7:55 pm

S000 satisfying to beat the biggest JERKS in NFL, Cam and Steve Smith!!

GregKennesaw

September 30th, 2012
7:56 pm

trolls come out come out where ever your are! B4 you are 0-4!

Only one winless team left in NFC

September 30th, 2012
7:56 pm

@Falcon James:

NFC South consist of the Atlanta Falcons and the three Tissue Boys.
I though the Deadskins were going to be a tough team after defeating the Caints in week one, but after watching them today, the Birds should bring a W home next week.

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
7:59 pm

The Falcon are kicking @ss and taking names. All the games were close today, but we had the recipe. Who going to say Ryan has a weak arm now?

60 YARDS IN THE AIR!!!! Love this 4-0 start. We got some work to do this week. But enjoying the W baby!!

DonofAcworth

September 30th, 2012
8:02 pm

Can anyone tell me just why and how that happened there? Man, in a season a big winner just simply has to get a couple of wins that you just can’t see them winning and this is the first one for our Birds…… what a win and let’s pile em up guy’s!

Falcons Fan

September 30th, 2012
8:03 pm

Falcons 4-0. Saints 0-4. Yup, Seen This B4!

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
8:04 pm

Heck, even Dunta played good today for a change. Not sure what happened on the pass protection, but whatever it was will get handled this week. Anybody want to join Magic Mike Ryan the Assassin, and Jumper Abe at Magic City?

phil

September 30th, 2012
8:04 pm

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.

*********
i love it! Of course it was racist! What else would it be? That’s why Smith was hired to begin with! His overt racism….

:roll:

drehey

September 30th, 2012
8:06 pm

Hey Vickofants, old noodle arm matty ice noodled a couple 70 yard bombs. How’d you like that?

Eddie Mcshan

September 30th, 2012
8:08 pm

Where is Joke, I mean Choke on the blog today? Nail biter but again the good guys win. BTW not many QBs in the NFL can heave a football sixty yards. I guess that noodle arm business can get stuffed now…

Get Back Joe Joe

September 30th, 2012
8:10 pm

It don’t have to be pretty, it just has to be a “W”!!!

Eddie Mcshan

September 30th, 2012
8:12 pm

Great win today but do not be fooled for a moment. Washington will play tough at home and it will be a war of attrition on both sides. I expected this game to be close and next Sunday will be equally tough.

SeenThisB4

September 30th, 2012
8:12 pm

I was going to post earlier, but I had to finish watching my beloved Saints blew another game and drop to 0-4. Wow, I guess cheating really does come back to haunt you.

Eddie Mcshan

September 30th, 2012
8:15 pm

Earl Hickey needs to get down to Nawlings ASAP! Karma is jumping off the top rope on the Saints every week! Sean Peyton needs to start a list a keep it in his pocket.

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

September 30th, 2012
8:15 pm

It wasn’t pretty BUT the Falcons still won.

It is a great Sunday…..Falcons win, Saints lose, Tampa Bay lose….and of course Carolina lose!!!!!

WHAT?

September 30th, 2012
8:15 pm

SeenThisB4 – If that was the case, New England would never win another game.

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
8:16 pm

I guarantee you STBzip is commenting under a new name somewhere………..its not likely he or she or it would just give up so easy……..yups they lost again 0 – 4 puppies……….just think all the NFC south had tight games today and THEY ALL LOST cept the division leading Atlanta Falcons………………………………………..

NFC SOUTH STANDINGS

Falcons 4 – 0
Bucs 1 – 3
Panthers 1 – 3
Caints 0 – 4

……………………..hehehehe…….

Ricnic

September 30th, 2012
8:18 pm

Drive: 5 Plays, 77 Yards, 0:54….Nuff Said!

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
8:19 pm

so beautiful…………………the very last series…………………………..indeed !

DD795

September 30th, 2012
8:24 pm

Who’s afraid of a Fig Newton?