ATLANTA, G.A. — The Carolina Panthers fell to 1-3 after losing to the division leading Atlanta Falcons 48-33 in Atlanta.
The Falcons came in to Sunday’s game boasting the league’s best statistical offense averaging 34.7 points per game and 448 yards of total offense.
Those numbers will improve, as the Panthers defense allowed 41 points and nearly 600 yards of total offense.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones both set franchise records and obviously felt they had an advantage against the young Carolina cornerbacks.
Ryan completed 28 of 37 passes for 503 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception. He connected with 10 different receivers and the Falcons’ offense looked sharp all afternoon.
The Panthers had no answer for Jones ,who had 94 receiving yards in the first quarter. He finished with 12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown. James Bradbury, Ben Benwikere, and Daryl Worley all attempted to cover Jones, but none of the three had much success.
The Panthers could not generate enough pressure to disrupt Matt Ryan, and Jones was able to get behind the defense on multiple occasions. Jones’ final reception was a 10 yard crossing pattern that he turned into a 75 yard catch and run for a touchdown.
Kurt Coleman intercepted a second quarter Matt Ryan pass, deflected by Thomas Davis, and returned it 8 yards for a touchdown, but Coleman’s interception was the only turnover the Panthers forced in the game.
Davis would later leave the game with a hamstring injury.
Cam Newton and the offense looked out of rhythm and only rushed for 49 yards. Cameron Artis-Payne, Fozzy Whitaker, and Mike Tolbert combined for 19 yards on 10 carries. Newton and Artis-Payne seemed to have some confusion on multiple read-option exchanges, and Atlanta was in good position whether Newton kept the ball or handed it off.
Kelvin Benjamin was more involved following last week’s zero reception game, but the lack of offensive rhythm was still apparent. Mike Remmers struggled protecting Newtons’s blindside in the place of the injured Michael Oher, and when he did have time, Cam was errant on several simple throws.
The Carolina offense did not score a touchdown until the fourth quarter when Newton connected with Kelvin Benjamin on a six yard pass to make the score 34-16. Newton converted the ensuing two-point conversion to cut the lead to sixteen points, but was knocked out of the game with a concussion on the play, after a hard hit to the head by Deion Jones.
Backup quarterback Derek Anderson looked solid while getting rid of the ball quickly and moving the offense down the field. Anderson threw fourth quarter touchdown passes to Greg Olsen and Corey Brown and brought Carolina to within eight points of Atlanta, but he also had an interception returned for a touchdown to seal the victory for the Falcons.
The Panthers would benefit greatly from the return of Jonathan Stewart, and must find a way to attack opposing quarterbacks if they are to salvage what is currently a disappointing season.
Carolina faces Tampa Bay next Monday night.