Last week, the Falcons started a three-game road swing that looked to either make or break their season. In order to consider the road stint successful, head coach Mike Smith said the Falcons needed to at least win 2-of-3. The Falcons made it 2-for-2 Sunday at Carolina as they easily handled the Panthers 31-10 before getting ready for next week's West Coast game at Seattle.
During the week, the Falcons were posed several questions about whether they were looking past Sunday's game or not, or even if it was difficult to focus on playing a 1-11 team. Everyone asked those types of questions responded that this week and Sunday's game was no different than any other. That attitude really came out Sunday as the Falcons took their usual workmanlike attitude into Carolina. They went up 14-0 very quickly and, despite some tense moments in the second half, the Falcons were able to pull out a convincing win.
Playing with Fire
The weather conditions in Charlotte on Sunday were less than ideal. The morning brought rain, wind and cold weather. The rain lifted before game time, but with field conditions still questionable, it seemed like Michael Turner would get a lot of work. He did. Turner rushed 28 times for 112 yards and three touchdowns Sunday, providing a steady and sure running game that was able to sustain drives and take time off the clock.
Last week, John Abraham tweeted that he wouldn't tweet again until he felt like he had helped the Falcons win a game. It's safe to assume he'll be back on the social network this week. Abraham helped out the defense with two sacks Sunday, pushing him over the 100-sack mark for his career. He became just the 25th player in NFL history to reach that milestone. Kroy Biermann joined the party with two sacks of his own, and Chauncey Davis recorded his first sack of the season.
Tale of Two Teams
The stats really showed just how different these two teams were Sunday. The Falcons racked up 24 first downs to Carolina's 13 (the Panthers managed just two in the first half). The Falcons put up 200 passing yards to the Panthers' 75 (they manged minus-5 in the first half). The Falcons were penalized just once for 10 yards while Carolina saw six flags for 50 yards. Sunday was a case of two teams in two different places.
Adding Some Drama
It wouldn't be a Falcons game without a few tense situations, and fans likely experienced a rapid heartbeat in the third quarter. The Panthers came out of halftime and really found their running game, and the Falcons struggled to stop it. Jonathan Stewart pulled off runs of 48 and 42 yards on two different Carolina drives, which allowed the Panthers to score all 10 of their points. The Falcons were able to shut that aspect of the Panthers' game down in the fourth quarter.