Julio Dominates:Julio Jones turned in the best performance of his career, catching 12 passes for 300 yards and a 70-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter which, ultimately, put the game out of reach. By torching Carolina's defense, Jones set the franchise record for receiving yards in a game — breaking his own mark set in 2014 (259) — and became the fourth WR since the NFL/AFL merger to amass 300-plus receiving yards in a contest.
"The offensive line did a great job for us today holding up, and Matt delivered some great balls today. What my team needed of me was beat man-to-man coverage, and I did that," Jones said. "It feels great to be mentioned with some of the best to accomplish 300 yards, but it was just what my team needed of me today. I couldn't have the success today if it wasn't for them doing their job on the same play."
Ryan Shreds Carolina's Defense: Jones' quarterback had a record-breaking day of his own. Matt Ryan completed 28 of 37 passes for four touchdowns and broke his own franchise mark with 503 passing yards. He is just the 15th QB since the AFL/NFL merger to throw for 500-plus yards.
"Well we had good matchups, and Kyle did a great job dialing up plays all day," Ryan said. "He stayed aggressive. But at the end of the day it comes down to Julio making some plays. I thought he played awesome, was huge for us in critical situations and showed how great of a player he is. That was fun to be a part of."
What's more, Ryan continued to spread the ball around as Jones racked up dazzling numbers, connecting with nine different receivers. At least eight Falcons have caught a pass in each of their four games thus far in 2016.
"Well I think that's really good," Ryan said. "It's been really good for us spreading the ball around and getting a lot of different people involved. I think it makes it difficult for a defense when you have that many guys catching passes."
Fast Start Sets Tone:The Falcons set the tone early by storming out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Matt Ryan completed all eight pass attempts in the opening frame for 133 passing yards, added 15 yards on the ground and fired a four-yard touchdown to Jacob Tamme. He and Jones connected for 94 yards on four receptions, highlighted by a 43-yard grab that helped set up a Devonta Freeman score.
Pass Rush Ignited: The Falcons registered just one sack (courtesy of Dwight Freeney), but its front-seven got to Newton, who connected on 14 of 25 throws. A good chunk of those incompletions came when he was forced out of the pocket. Atlanta's pass rush is a work in progress, as Quinn is one to note, but nevertheless, it showed marked improvements against Carolina.
"I do feel like the guys affected the quarterback," Quinn said. "I don't know how many times he was off the spot — that's something we'll look at — but the end of the game, that finish, that close, that's what we're looking to do. We've still got work to do there, but I definitely thought the arrow is going up in (that area)."
Falcons Thrive on Third Down:Atlanta's defense held the Panthers to 7-of-16 on third downs, and by doing so forced six points and killed a number of promising drives. The offense fared well on third down, too, converting seven of 13 of those opportunities. Moving the chains so well was especially important given how many times Carolina pinned Atlanta deep in its own end of the field.
"It certainly was," Quinn said. "Third down was a big factor for us, on both sides."