The Falcons were out to prove Sunday that they could matchup with one of the better teams in the NFC South. After their 24-9 loss, they will have to realize they have still aways to go to be on the same level as the Carolina Panthers. Led by Jake Delhomme’s 20-for-29 passing for 294 yards and three TD’s, the Panthers move to 3-1 with the win that sends Atlanta to 2-2.
Carolina’s mission was to stop brusing back Michael Turner, and they did a good job of that, holding him to just 56 yards on 18 carries (3.1 yards per carry). Matt Ryan was 21-for-41 for 158 yards with no picks and no TD’s. The Panthers D got to him for two sacks. Carolina limited the Falcons to just three Jason Elam field goals all afternoon.
On offense, Delhomme spread the ball to his two favorite wide outs often, as Mushin Muhammad had 8 grabs for 147 yards and a score and Steve Smith had six catches for 96 yards and a TD. DeShaun Williams had 57 yards on 16 carries for the Panthers, and Jonathan Stewart had 52 yards on 14 carries and a score.
The Panthers outgained Altanta 401 to 268. They built a 14-9 halftime lead with a Stewart TD run from eight yards out and a Delhomme 56-yard TD to Smith. In the second half, they added 10 more as John Kasay kicked a 44-yard field goal and Delhomme burned the young Falcons secondary for a 36-yard score to Muhammad with 12:03 to go to end the scoring.
The Falcons offense was no match for Carolina in the second half, as their six drives saw four punts and two end on downs. Both teams were not very good on third downs, as the Falcons were just 2-for-13 and the Panthers just 3-for-12, but it was the big plays by Delhomme and the Panthers passing game that put the game away.
Next week the Falcons are at Green Bay for a meeting with the Packers. The Panthers Host the Chiefs next Sunday.