Miles to Burn
With Julio Jones held out of Sunday's game due to injury, the popular assumption is that the Falcons would give the Panthers a nice, healthy dose of Michael Turner. And did they ever. Turner racked up his third 100-yard rushing game of the season Sunday and also added two touchdowns — the first and the final. For his career as a Falcon, Sunday marked the 22nd game Turner has gone over 100 yards, which ties him for second in franchise history with William Andrews. Turner and Andrews trail only Gerald Riggs.
Big Day for Mughelli
Perhaps the most unsung player on the Falcons offense is fullback Ovie Mughelli. It's a thankless position full of clearing the way for the star players and making sure the franchise quarterback doesn't get touched. But once in a while, Mughelli gets a chance to shine, and he usually takes advantage. In the second quarter Sunday, Mughelli and the Falcons' offense faced a third-and-goal after two straight run plays had been stuffed. Mughelli went to the flat after the snap and Ryan found him for the short TD pass. When he wasn't scoring touchdowns, he was clearing the way for Turner as much of his success was because of Mughelli's blocking downfield.
Leave it to cornerback Brent Grimes to come along exactly when the Falcons need him most. The Panthers were deep in Falcons territory late in the second quarter and driving when Grimes showed why he may or may not have the DNA of a leopard. Safety William Moore tipped a Cam Newton pass high in the air and Grimes climbed his invisible ladder to snag it, took it out of the end zone and returned it to about the 30. The play brought to a fast end what could have been a crucial drive for the Panthers.
When it comes to the number 3, the Falcons' only luck comes with kicker Matt Bryant (whose jersey is No. 3). Be it third downs or the third quarter, the Falcons don't seem to have a whole lot of success. In the third quarter, the Falcons had allowed Carolina to convert on six of its seven third down attempts. The number got a little better later in the game, but the Falcons' defense couldn't find a way to get off the field, which allowed Carolina to sustain drives that ended in points.
Grimes' interception kept alive an impressive streak for the Falcons on Sunday, as they have now caused an interception in 25 straight games — the longest such current streak in the NFL. Adding to that total was defensive tackle Corey Peters, who snagged an interception — yes, an interception — midway through the fourth quarter on a drive during which the Panthers were trying to even up the score. Peters' one-handed snag allowed the Falcons to start milking the clock to secure the win. Thomas DeCoud put the final nail in the coffin with an INT on the last play.