Entering Sunday's game, both the Falcons run defenses hadn't performed as well as they wanted. Through the first half, it looks like whichever team can slow the ball on the ground will come away with the win.
After a quick score on the first possession from the Panthers, the Falcons were able to find a score of their own just before the first quarter ended, a Matt Ryan 49-yard bomb to Roddy White to tie the game at 7 each.
The touchdown pass was Ryan's 19th straight game with a passing score, and it was made possible by Atlanta's run game, mostly Michael Turner. The running back ran strong in the first half and he consistently mowed down Carolina defenders, rushing for 8 yards per carry.
As Carolina's defenders had to give more attention to Turner, Ryan hit White deep for the game's first Falcons score. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the Panthers were also running wild. The Panthers gained 42 yards rushing in the first quarter, carried by Newton's 32-yard run on their first touchdown drive.
The Atlanta defense stepped up to force a turnover in their fourth straight game, a Dunta Robinson forced fumble that Ray Edwards recovered. The Falcons turned that into a field goal to take a 13-10 lead.
However, Carolina continued to run the ball, using their read-option play to neutralize Atlanta's aggressive defense. After the Matt Bryant field goal, Carolina marched up the field again and used a 13-yard touchdown run by DeAngelo Williams to regain the advantage.
While the Falcons were using their running game to open things up, they used a huge first half from the always-reliable White. He added another TD reception late in the second half to help the Falcons take back the lead.
At the half, the Falcons have already gained 71 yards rushing, 61 from Turner on 10 carries. Atlanta's run D's difficulties continued heading to the locker room. They've allowed 103 yards on the ground from the Panthers, 40 from Newton.
White has six catches on the day including his two touchdown grabs, in all earning 97 yards in the first half.