Jake Delhomme rebounded nicely after his struggles in week one, but the Panthers fell just short in Atlanta. Delhomme threw for over 300 yards, and had a touchdown pass, but most importantly, did not turn the ball over, with the exception being an interception on fourth and long late in the game.
Part of the reason for his success was his insistence of getting the ball into Steve Smith’s hands, who had 8 catches for 131 yards. Delhomme’s counterpart, Matt Ryan, also had a nice game, throwing three touchdown passes, while running back Michael Turner got back on track with 105 yards and a touchdown.
The first half was very high scoring, as Matt Ryan rebounded from an early interception, to lead three straight scoring drives, all of them ending in passing touchdowns. The final of which was an impressive two minute drill, culminating in a 7 yard TD reception by Roddy White, which gave the Falcons momentum heading into the dressing room, up 21-13.
The Falcons got the ball to start the second half, and looked to be driving for their fourth straight touchdown and basically putting the game out of reach, but Turner coughed the ball up deep in Panthers territory. This was a huge momentum swing, however, the pendulum would go right back in Falcons favor, as DeAngelo Williams put it on the ground 7 plays later. Atlanta would make them pay, as Turner redeemed his earlier mistake, punching it in from one yard out, giving the Falcons a 28-13 lead.
The Panthers, however, would not give up, scoring a touchdown on the following possession and then forcing a three and out. Delhomme would then drive his team into Falcon territory, but he could not find the end zone, and would throw a pick on fourth and long. Carolina would get a final possession, but they did not have any timeouts left and the game would end on a ‘Hail Mary’ attempt.
This is a tough loss for the Panthers, but they have to be happy with the way Delhomme bounced back from a bad start. The Falcons, on the other hand, look like the real deal, and Matt Ryan is putting to rest any predictions that he might be in line for a sophomore slump.