Third Quarter: Falcons Creeping Back

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Offensively, the Falcons appear to be getting what they need from Jason Snelling at running back in place of Michael Turner.

Snelling has 54 yards on 13 carries, including 48 yards on nine carries in the third quarter. With the Falcons poised to score a touchdown (they are on the Panthers' 3-yard line to start the fourth quarter), Matt Ryan also is looking much more efficient than he was in the first half. Ryan was 8 of 10 in the quarter for 97 yards with no interceptions or touchdowns.

With the Falcons having cut into that 11-point halftime deficit by three, here are some observations for the final 15 minutes:

When Chauncey Davis blocked John Kasay's 51-yard field goal attempt, it was the Falcons' defense's third stop of the game. Carolina had scored touchdowns on three of its previous four possessions. That was big to stay in the game. *

The Falcons had the ball for all but 3:21 of the third quarter. *

The Falcons have scored on all three trips in the red zone but they only have one touchdown. They had to settle for field goals from the 17- and 6-yard lines. (Of course, that could all change in a matter of seconds now.) *

The Panthers are often defending Tony Gonzalez with a cornerback. Richard Marshall broke up Matt Ryan's throw to Gonzalez in the end zone on third-and-4 from the 6 in the third quarter. Earlier in the first quarter, Chris Gamble was matched up with Gonzalez. Maybe that it was a decision that Panthers Head Coach John Fox made when he lost linebacker Thomas Davis, an excellent runner, last Sunday for the season with a knee injury. *

Brent Grimes is in at left cornerback, replacing Tye Hill. Hill got beat a few times in the first half. *


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