1. On a day when Carolina’s pressure made it hard to throw, Michael Turner had his biggest game of the season. Roundly castigated after two indifferent games and his subsequent DUI arrest, Turner rushed for 103 yards on 17 carries and caught three passes for 68 yards, 60 of them coming on a dinky screen pass that the Burner turned into something greater. On that burst, he didn’t look old or slow or chubby. He looked pretty much like the Michael Turner of old, which is welcome news for the Falcons.
2. Often great, Roddy White has rarely been greater. Falcons wide receivers caught 10 passes Sunday; White had eight of them, for 169 yards. Three of his receptions either scored points or led to them: The leaping-over-Haruki-Nakamura 49-yard touchdown in the first quarter; the 14-yard slant for a touchdown in the second quarter, and the 59-yard victimization of Nakamura on the first play of the Falcons’ drive to the winning field goal. Oh, yeah: White also had a deft downfield block on Turner’s 60-yard touchdown reception.
3. The defense that shackled Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers could never get a handle on Cam Newton. The Mike Nolan schemes that confounded those two veterans didn’t appear to faze the second-year man from Auburn. The Panthers’ offense was a deft blend of power (199 yards rushing, 86 by Newton) and precision (Newton completed 15 of 25 passes for 215 yards). Opponents are surely realizing that the way to attack the Falcons is to run at them, and the absence of a sustained pass rush continues to be a source of concern. (Though the Falcons did finish with three sacks, their highest total of the season.)
By Mark Bradley