Time Machine: Falcons Top Panthers on Halloween 1999

Atlanta picked up its first home victory of the 1999 season on Oct. 31 at the Georgia Dome in a matchup against division foe Carolina.

After being plagued all season with turnover problems, the Falcons found a solution by winning the turnover battle in a big way by creating five in this contest. The Birds picked off three QB Steve Beuerlein passes and also recovered two Beuerlein fumbles while not committing any turnovers of their own.

Trailing 3-0, Atlanta WR Tim Dwight went to work. Dwight started out the ensuing drive by returning the kickoff 40-yards to the Falcons 38-yard line. After maneuvering to the Panthers 35, Dwight hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass to put the home team on the scoreboard.

Two consecutive Morten Andersen field goals from 39 and 24 yards out extended the lead in the second quarter to 13-3.

Carolina did manage to close the gap to 13-6 before the half on a long John Kasay 41-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining.

But the Falcons defense started to collectively flex their muscles as DE Chuck Smith was all over Beuerlein, harassing him constantly in the second half. Smith's first big play of the afternoon was crucial as he strip-sacked the Panther quarterback deep in Carolina territory to start the third quarter. Fellow DL Shane Dronett picked up the fumble and advanced it 15 yards to the Panthers two-yard line. Two plays later, RB Ken Oxendine scored his first NFL touchdown on a one-yard plunge for a 20-6 advantage.

But before the Birds could get too comfortable, Panthers RB Michael Bates returned the next kickoff 100 yards to draw Carolina close.

Atlanta matched that score with a 78-yard drive of its own that ended with a 4-yard touchdown reception from Dwight off of a beautiful play-action fake on the first play of the fourth quarter as the Falcons increased the lead to 27-13.

The Panthers did not give up as they mounted a late rally when Beuerlein took it over himself for a one-yard touchdown after he moved them in position, going 70 yards on just three plays, to make it a one-score game at 27-20 with 3:07 left.

Carolina forced Atlanta to punt and got the ball back with 14 seconds remaining, but Beuerlein's desperation heave was intercepted by S Gerald McBurrows to claim the win.

Smith finished with three sacks as the Birds totaled six on the day and also collected three picks with a pair of fumble recoveries in a stout defensive performance.

This final Time Machine for 2013 wouldn't be complete without mentioning some key contributions in this series for the incomparable Tony Gonzalez in the final game of his Hall of Fame career this Sunday. His first NFC South Division game was played against Carolina in Week 2 of the 2009 campaign. Gonzalez caught the first touchdown of the game and in Division competition in that contest and grabbed a total of seven catches for 71 yards to help the Falcons to a 28-20 victory. In nine career match-ups versus the Panthers, Tony G has caught 44 passes for 462 yards with three touchdowns and boasts a 6-3 record. Thanks Tony for all the memories!

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