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Week 1: What happened in Falcons home win over Panthers

The Falcons began their 2023 season with a 24-10 victory over the Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons' offense did just enough and their defense did more than enough to secure a 24-10 victory Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Even the home special-teams unit stepped up for a key moment late in the Week 1 game.

Below is how every game recap this 2023 season will be broken down by quarter for right-at-the-buzzer consumption, starting with a note that Carolina won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Atlanta's ball to start.



It was less than an ideal opening drive for the Falcons offense.

For starters, quarterback Desmond Ridder's first pass attempt of 2023 was deflected. The airborne ball was ultimately caught — funny enough, by Ridder himself — but backtracked the Falcons 6 yards.

Running back Bijan Robinson used his first career touch to make up that deficit, gaining on an 8-yard run. But then Ridder was sacked at the line of scrimmage to draw up a fourth-down punt.

See, not ideal.

There wasn't really a wow moment until Falcons safety Jessie Bates III intercepted Panthers quarterback and first-round draft pick Bryce Young on a second-and-16 play at the 1-minute, 10-second mark.

(Note: That was Bates' 15th career interception, first with Atlanta.)

After Bates' 3-yard return, the Falcons offense took over at Panthers' 17-yard line and got two plays in before the clock ran out.

End first quarter: 0-0, all


Plot twist: It was an ideal opening play for the Falcons offense.

Lined up at the Carolina 11-yard line, facing a third-and-4 situation, Ridder received the snap in shotgun and threw a short dart to Robinson, who proceeded to show why he was worthy of being the Falcons' first-round draft pick this past offseason. Robinson immediately made a defender miss and took it to the house, scoring his first career touchdown on what goes down on paper as an 11-yard reception but really showed off his legs.

The Falcons were able to hold off the Panthers offense the first go-around in the period, but Carolina's second drive led to a tied ball game. Young delivered a 4-yard pass to tight end Hayden Hurst in the end zone and.

(Note: Hurst's name sounds familiar, since he played for the Falcons from 2020-21.)

Neither team was able to steal the lead away before halftime.

Scoring plays:

-- Falcons: Desmond Ridder pass 11 yards to Bijan Robinson; Younghoe Koo PAT … 7-0, ATL
-- Panthers: Bryce Young pass 4 to Hayden Hurst; Eddy Pineiro PAT … 7-7, all

Halftime: 7-7, all


The Panthers got things rolling to start the second half. Kind of. They pulled together a nine-play drive for 50 yards, but the last play came 2 yards short of moving the chains. Instead of going for it on fourth down, kicker Eddy Pineiro came out for a successful 43-yard goal to give Carolina the lead for the first time.

The Falcons did not immediately answer, at least not the offense.

Bates, again, came in clutch on defense, intercepting Young on the Panthers' next drive. Bates wasn't able to return the pick, but he did put the Falcons automatically in Carolina territory at the 36-yard line.

(Note: For those counting, that puts Bates at 16 career interceptions, two with Atlanta.)

Atlanta couldn't cash in on the opportunity but was close enough to bring Koo out. He made a 49-yard field goal to tie things back up.

That wasn't enough for Bates, so he did something about it – yet again – on defense. Bates forced a fumble out of Panthers running back Miles Sanders. This turnover put the Falcons at their own 39-yard line.

Just in time for the final period.

Scoring plays:

-- Panthers: Eddy Pineiro 43-yard field goal … 10-7, CAR
-- Falcons: Younghoe Koo 49-yard field goal … 10-10, all

End third quarter: 10-10, all


Instead of scoring on the first play of this period, the Falcons did so on the second. Running back Tyler Allgeier bulldozed his way into the end zone from 3 yards out. The play was reviewed – since Allgeier was super close to missing the goal line when he stepped out of bounds – and the call stood, giving Atlanta the lead back for the first time since its initial touchdown.

Panthers didn't answer, and Falcons didn't follow-up.

Atlanta's special teams, though, made a huge play of its own when punter Bradley Pinion and Co. pinned Carolina at its own 1-yard line, where the Panthers made no moves.

And then, finally, the Falcons showed up big time on offense. Ridder connected a deep 35-yard pass to tight end Kyle Pitts, just his second reception. Allgeier used back-to-back carries to score on another 3-yard run.

Scoring plays:

-- Falcons: Tyler Allgeier run 3 yards; Younghoe Koo PAT … 17-10, ATL
-- Falcons: Tyler Allgeier run 3 yards; Younghoe Koo PAT … 24-10, ATL

Final: 24-10, ATL

The Falcons begin their 2023 season with a 1-0 record.

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers during Week 1.

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