At this point in the season, it's not crazy to say you never what to expect from the Falcons. In Sunday's first half against the NFC South division rival Carolina Panthers, just about everything was unexpected in a really bad way. The Panthers limited the Falcons to 35 yards on offense and held them out of the endzone. Meanwhile, the Carolina offense didn't make many mistakes.
Their play in the first half in Charlotte is the first time the Falcons have played the first half without scoring a single point.
The Panthers scored in every first-half possession, starting things off with a game-opening 77-yard march that had the Falcons defense looking undermanned on the field. The only efficiency from the first half came from Carolina. As they kept Atlanta and their offense out of rhythm, they made the most of every possession they had, not just coming away with points, but increasing their time of possession margin as well. Carolina ended the game with a 23:48-6:12 edge.
Cam Newton was the head of the Panthers offense, playing one of the best halves of football this season. He was accountable for 223 of Carolina's 270 yards in the first half.
The Falcons defense began to show signs of life late in the first half, starting with a sack of Newton from Vance Walker, whose playing time increased with the first-half injury of Jonathan Babineaux. A few incompletions later the Panthers had to take a field goal, increasing their lead to 13-0. The Panthers hit another field goal at the end of the first half, putting the lead at 16-0.
Down by 16 to Carolina is the largest deficit the Falcons have entered the second half with all season. The previous largest margin was 11.
The defense was the only bright side of the half for the Falcons. Although they gave up scores in all four possessions, the final three were field goals and they held the Panthers to 0-for-2 in the red zone and 0-for-1 in goalline situations.