Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 281 yards and scored on a run and the visiting Atlanta Falcons came up with enough plays on defense to turn away the Carolina Panthers for a 25-17 victory Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
Ryan was 21-for-30 in the air with an interception.
The Panthers took possession with 2:58 remaining at its own 5-yard line after the Falcons, who had reached Carolina territory, punted for the only time in the game.
The Panthers moved to the Atlanta 30-yard line before an interception by Blidi Wreh-Wilson was the game’s clincher.
Curtis Samuel scored two touchdowns for Carolina, which was without All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey for the sixth consecutive game. McCaffrey returned to practice earlier in the week as he recovers from an ankle injury, but it was announced earlier in the day that he would be held out.
Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was 15-for-23 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Carolina (3-5) has followed a three-game winning streak with three straight losses.
The outcome came less than three weeks since the Panthers won 23-16 in Atlanta, and Raheem Morris became the Falcons’ interim coach the next day upon the firing of Dan Quinn. Atlanta (2-6), which was coming off Sunday’s one-point home loss to Detroit, improved to 2-1 under Morris.
Atlanta receiver Julio Jones churned out another big game against the Panthers, posting 137 yards on seven catches.
Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo was 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts, connecting from 20, 37, 36 and 29 yards – although he did miss an extra-point in the fourth quarter. Samuel, a receiver, scored on a 12-yard run in the first quarter. He caught a 29-yard pass from Bridgewater on a second-quarter flea flicker.
Ryan’s 13-yard run for a score midway through the second quarter and Koo’s field goal on the final play in the half provided the Falcons with a 16-14 halftime lead. Ryan wasn’t sure whether his teammates were celebrating that he scored a 13-yard touchdown, or laughing at how long it takes him to cover 13 yards.
“I can’t tell if they’re laughing at me or just having a good time and excited for it, but they’re always good when we get them and I think guys get fired up by it showing that there’s different ways to get the job done,” Ryan said.
The Panthers were within 19-17 after Joey Slye’s 39-yard field goal on a drive extended by a successful fake punt.
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