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

phil

September 30th, 2012
8:24 pm

3 game lead after 4.

Wow

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
8:26 pm

Now it is time to LAUGH and MV7……

WHAT?

September 30th, 2012
8:26 pm

If Mike Smith was a racist he wouldn’t even have a black coach on the staff. Ever thought of that, DeWayne G.? Of course not, because you are incapable of thinking.

drehey

September 30th, 2012
8:27 pm

Hey vickophants, Ole noodle arm was noodling a couple 70 yarders around the field today. What’d you think of that?

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
8:28 pm

Time to laugh at the M.V Eagles QB losing tonight.

jonklovesbirds

September 30th, 2012
8:29 pm

There is something wrong with the Defense NO Sacks? We gotta do something…when it comes to Houston Texans, What are we gonna deooooooo?

Only one winless team left in NFC

September 30th, 2012
8:29 pm

Has anyone seen Seen This B4 today?

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
8:29 pm

RGIII saw what Cam could do running up the middle so the D better get a good game plan for that next week.

hind tit

September 30th, 2012
8:32 pm

I think Georgia was right about Newton and what would be the best position for him to play. Would be a monster tight end with the speed and that long stride he has. Just think of him as Gonzalez with speed. Face it, you can’t be an NFL qb. and pout when the going gets tough. And please stop with that limp wrist first down signal Newton.

had enough

September 30th, 2012
8:32 pm

We are going to be 5-0 after next week.

hit a single

September 30th, 2012
8:33 pm

Thank the good lord Cam Newton is not a Falcon.

hit a single

September 30th, 2012
8:35 pm

Auburn kissed his butt. I hope the National Championship was worth it.

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
8:39 pm

YES, that National Championship was worth it……Look where he was drafted and how much his first contract was. If he is smart and takes care of that money it doesn’t matter if he ever plays another football game at the contracts end.

Law & Order

September 30th, 2012
8:43 pm

I guess it’s Roddy White’s turn to be arrested tomorrow.

Dazzy G

September 30th, 2012
8:43 pm

@Only one winless…

Yes I “seen” him today sweeping out his FEMA trailer. More fun than watching the NO Aints.

Ricnic

September 30th, 2012
8:43 pm

Great win Coach Smith. Now tell everyone go home don’t get your butts locked up and I will see you monday!

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
8:44 pm

ha ! ha ! ha !……………….sweeping………..yup

Baby Punting

September 30th, 2012
8:47 pm

Only one winless team left in NFC

September 30th, 2012
8:29 pm
Has anyone seen Seen This B4 today?

=====================================
Because he hasn’t seen this b4. LOL

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
8:48 pm

that was a good one..he he

hit a single

September 30th, 2012
8:49 pm

5150 – I know it was worth it for Cam. His agent, I meant his dad got the best deal for him. No doubt a great talent, but I will always feel like he and his dad beat the system. I know all Auburn people feel different and that is fine, but the truth will never come out but many questions are still not answered.

falcons fan

September 30th, 2012
8:56 pm

I am huge Falcons fan and really excited about the win. However, I think I enjoyed the fact that cam newton lost more than the Falcons won. What a pompous, self centered, “its all about me” bum. Get over yourself.

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r_w_F

September 30th, 2012
8:59 pm

Who copyedits DOL’s articles? Jesus.

Superman is da Man

September 30th, 2012
9:07 pm

Abraham is a drunk & a joke, saw him get pancaked today, Charles Johnson showed him who the best D end on the field was, Falcons got an early Xmas present today, didn’t deserve to win but payback will be in December when Superman flies in Carolina all over the lousy Birds! Go Superman Cam

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
9:09 pm

I just saw on the news where Tissue in flying off the shelf and people are having to pay $25.00 a box in New Orleans and Charlotte.

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
9:13 pm

Falcon James, that trash aint worthy to use tissue paper…………..give em a cheap roll of butt wipers………………………………

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
9:14 pm

Maybe some sand paper?

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
9:15 pm

chokin on popcorn laughin out here…………………..

Really?

September 30th, 2012
9:16 pm

I wouldnt get to comforatble with this win…the O line looked TERRIBLE. They gave up 7 sacks but honestly, Ryan made some really bad decisions of his own. Jones dropped pass and the inability to drag a foot at the line. Win is great but they cant continue to look this bad and win every game.

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
9:16 pm

Anybody got the line on whose going to jail this week? Somebody said Roddy earlier, but my money is on Ryan or Bryant.

Big Crimson 75

September 30th, 2012
9:17 pm

Matt Ryan — NFL MVP

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
9:17 pm

Really? needs a tissue. Please pass him the box.

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
9:19 pm

an inch on the line and officials should have gave em the catch, as for looking bad ? Nope, the Panthers were on their game today, their team looked pretty good but came up short in the end………………………..

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
9:20 pm

nawwww……think the jail thing is done this year……………………….

Maceo

September 30th, 2012
9:20 pm

GO Falcons! However, I am disappointed by the Dome crowd tonight. No noise until 3rd downs, bunch of pussies. This is a FALCONS game, not some goddamn social event. Step it up, People!

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
9:21 pm

Get lost really………..you just a troll…………………………..

Big Crimson 75

September 30th, 2012
9:21 pm

A win is a win.
This Game was just like the SF game in 2010, never underestimate a desperate Team.
The Line had some bad moments, Defense had some bad moments — so what.
For those of US who stayed til the end, the reward was worth it!!

Really?

September 30th, 2012
9:21 pm

A game winning drive from the 1 with less than a minute left???!!! Are you kidding me baby? The Falcons are looking REALLY good even though it’s still very early in the season. Then again with Matty Ice and all the Falcons weapons we might wrap up the NFC South in a few weeks.

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

September 30th, 2012
9:23 pm

Had the good fortune to be in a good seat at the Dome this afternoon. The only people I felt sorry for were the folks who gave up on the Falcons and decided to pack it in early. Some left when Atlanta chose to punt rather than go for it on fourth and long. Others left when the Falcons got backed up to their own end zone with less than a minute to go. I’m glad I stayed for the WHOLE game. Wow!!! Couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

Falcon James

September 30th, 2012
9:24 pm

Agree that the Falcon have a few things to get straightened out. Julio stepping his toe on the line is not one of them. His momentum carried him and he was not close enough to drag. Ryan had an outstanding game today. Give Carolina D-Line some credit because he was under duress or on is back a lot. He hung in and took some blows, BUT he delivered a IN THE AIR 60 YARD STRIKE when it mattered. I would say the only thing needing work is the pass protection, not Julio, not Roddy, and certainly not Ryan!

Really?

September 30th, 2012
9:24 pm

Whats up with that whiney fake Really? at 9:16? He pos up here and there every now and then with posts that exhibit none of my brilliance and class. Is it REALLY that hard to create an original name?

Big Crimson 75

September 30th, 2012
9:28 pm

Flowery Branch Jacket — ditto. Despicable “fans” leaving early.
On the punt at the end of the game, I could see the Carolina guy’s foot touch the goal line with the ball in his hand — obvious call when it happened!!

Only one winless team left in NFC

September 30th, 2012
9:31 pm

We shouldn’t pick on Seen. Life has been pretty hard in Femaville the last few years. When your city and your team are below sea level, you’re always on the bottom.

DC Dirty Bird

September 30th, 2012
9:33 pm

Charles Johnson is almost 10 years younger than Abe, he should be outperforming him. As far as our December date with Carolina….I think Mike Nolan will figure out how our scheme matches up with the zone read over the next couple weeks.

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Really?

September 30th, 2012
9:33 pm

Did the refs in that Packers taint’s game forget they are no longer supposed to cheat so they taint’s can win? That eye gouge by the lowlife taint’s probably earned a quick 5 large.

Hmmmm I wonder where choke and seen and the other crackheads are tonight? Those guys are usually camped out on the Falcon’s blogs like a new orleans fan waiting at the mailbox on welfare check day.

Observer

September 30th, 2012
9:35 pm

Actually, I think Really’s post at 9:16 was pretty much accurate.

Seen This B 0-4

September 30th, 2012
9:37 pm

Trolls are in their holes.

Michael M.

September 30th, 2012
9:40 pm

Seenthisb4 is Seenthisbzip who is Seenthisbutthole……………………………………….

5150 UOAD

September 30th, 2012
9:42 pm

M. V. 7 getting Booed…..LMAO