ATLANTA -- When you look at a time of possession column as skewed towards one team as it was for the Carolina Panthers when they traveled to Atlanta on Sunday, it's really easy to say it happened because the defense couldn't get off the field. But when it comes to the Falcons 19-13 loss to the divisional opponent, it's just as easy to say the time of possession was lopsided because the offense couldn't stay on the field.
When Matt Ryan came to the podium after the game, he said Atlanta had a general idea of how the Panthers would attack them offensively. The Falcons knew the Panthers plan would be to rely heavily on the run game. And that's exactly what they did, earning 203 yards on the ground on Sunday, with 13 of their 21 first downs coming via the run.
This, Ryan said, shrunk the clock for Atlanta, as evidenced by the Panthers 10 minute advantage in possession time during the game.
"We knew going into it that if that was the case then you have to be opportunistic," Ryan said.
Opportunistic, Ryan said. That's what the Falcons weren't, even when they knew they had to be coming in.
"I thought we had chances," he said, "but we didn't make the plays when we needed to."
The Falcons finished the day with a 30 percent conversion rate on third downs. They were 3-for-10. Of their 17 first downs, four were converted thanks to a Panthers penalty. Ryan's 143 passing yards was the lowest mark he's had since 2018 when he threw for 131 yards against Baltimore. The Falcons most dynamic receiving weapons - Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson - combined for 50 yards through the air. In the absence of Calvin Ridley, Tajae Sharpe was the Falcons leading receiver, but Russell Gage didn't have a single target in the loss.
There's a lot that can be said about the defensive performance. With the Falcons giving up 200-plus yards on the ground to the Panthers, who averaged 4.3 yards a run. From a rushing standpoint, this was a banner day for the Carolina running backs. Their 46 rushing attempts tied for the fourth-most in team history, and their most since 2013, based on a tweet from Joe Person.
But Arthur Smith didn't put this loss solely on the shoulders of the defense. Per Smith, the reason for the loss was ultimately that the offense didn't do enough.
"It wasn't good enough on our end, starting with me on down," Smith said. "That's the bottom line."
Regardless of how it looked, the yards given up or the loss itself, Smith said it was the offense that "didn't make enough plays."
"At the end of the day, as ugly as that (defensive performance) felt, (Carolina) only scored 19 points," Smith said. "We have to do more offensively. When you're in the National Football League, you have to score more than 13 points."
And that's really all there is to say about that.
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