Time Machine: Falcons-Panthers History Lesson

From childhood to college, take a look at some of the best photos from the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders' cheer and dance histories.

Atlanta has the fourth-most victories of any series opponent they have played with 23 wins heading into the first encounter with Carolina this season. It's an interesting note, especially when you factor in that the two teams didn't start playing each other until the Panthers were created in 1995.

A superb defensive and special teams effort followed by a strange play at the end of the game highlighted the Falcons contest with the Panthers in Charlotte on Sept. 17, 2000.

The game was even more bizarre when you consider the Falcons recovered both a muffed punt at the Carolina 33-yard line in the first quarter and recovered a blocked a punt at the Panthers 21-yard line in the third quarter, but failed to score on either opportunity. The special teams also added a strong rush that forced Carolina to abort another field goal try.

Birds CB Ray Buchanan helped position Atlanta for an early score when he picked off a Carolina QB Steve Beuerlein pass attempt and returned it 38 yards inside Panthers territory at their 20-yard line.  But three plays failed to gain much yardage and K Morten Andersen was called on to hit a 31-yarder for the first points of the afternoon.

The Panthers had a scoring opportunity on the next drive of the game, but DT Travis Hall and DE Chuck Wiley got their hands on a K Richie Cunningham 25-yard field goal attempt to stymie the scoring threat.  

Falcons RB Jamal Anderson punctuated a 77-yard scoring march early in the second quarter after barreling 26-yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.

Carolina countered with a strong drive of its own, converting three third-downs on its next series, going 65-yards and taking 6:35 off the clock before Cunningham connected with a 33-yard field goal.

The Panthers got the ball back with 1:51 left in the first half though and tied the game with less than 20 seconds to go on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Beuerlein to WR Muhsin Muhammad.

After a scoreless third quarter, Falcons CB Ashely Ambrose plucked a Beuerlein pass out of the air and ran it back 36-yards to help set-up a chip shot 27-yard field goal in the fourth to break the tie.

On the next Panthers series, with just under three minutes remaining, Falcons S Ronnie Bradford forced Panthers RB Tshimanga Biakabutuka to fumble after a 37-yard gain deep in Falcons territory to preserve the lead.

Then, the strangest play of the day happened.

Anderson broke free for a 42-yard rush down the Panthers left sideline attempting to seal the win with a touchdown, but was stripped of the ball at the 16-yard line during the run. The ball rolled untouched down the field before Panthers CB Doug Evans appeared to recover the loose ball in the end zone for a touchback.

 
But the officials ruled that Evans had two feet in the field of play after gaining possession, negating the turnover, and resulting in a safety.

Atlanta gathered the free kick with 1:55 remaining and ran out the clock for a 15-10 road victory.  

Anderson led the offensive attack with 97 yards rushing and the lone touchdown of the day for the Falcons, while fullback Bob Christian was the top receiver with six catches out of the backfield.

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