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(Sunday, September 30th)
Final Score: Atlanta 30, Carolina 28
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Matt Bryant made a 40-yard field goal with five seconds remaining and the Atlanta Falcons stayed perfect with a 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Trailing 28-27, the Falcons took over from their own 1-yard line with 59 seconds remaining. On the first play, Roddy White hauled in a 59-yard pass. A defensive pass interference penalty put the ball at the Carolina 35. Matt Ryan completed two passes before Bryant kicked the game-winning field goal.
Ryan completed 25-of-40 passes for 369 yards, three touchdowns and an interception for the Falcons, who are off to their first 4-0 start since 2004.
White caught eight passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Turner carried the ball 13 times for 103 yards and hauled in three passes for 68 yards and a score.
"Every time it looked bleak, every time it looked like we didn't have a chance, we were able to overcome it and finish," Falcons head coach Mike Smith said.
Cam Newton connected on 15-of-24 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers (1-3), who had seven sacks. He also carried the ball nine times for 86 yards and a score.
DeAngelo Williams rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries for Carolina, which has lost two in a row. Greg Olsen caught six passes for 89 yards and a score.
Trailing 24-21, Newton led the Panthers on a six-play, 88-yard drive. Olsen got things going with a 34-yard catch along the right sideline. Faced with a 3rd-and-10, Newton threw a wide receiver screen to Kealoha Pilares, who went 36 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown with 7:55 to play.
Bryant responded with a 33-yard field goal to get the Falcons within one, 28-27.
Following a punt from each team, Carolina took over at its own 32 with 2:26 to play. On 3rd-and-2 from the Atlanta 46, Newton tried to use his legs to get a first down. However, the second-year quarterback lost the football on a short run. The Panthers recovered the ball short of the first down.
"You have to protect the football," Newton said. "That was a key focus going into this game, and I fumbled. There's a lot of guys that are trusting the ball carrier, and I was the ball carrier that particular play to get the job done. And I dropped the ball."
Brad Nortman's 49-yard punt pinned the Falcons at the 1-yard line. That set up Atlanta's five-play, 77-yard drive to win the game.
The Panthers scored a touchdown on their first possession of the game. Newton's 32-yard run down the left sideline put Carolina in the red zone. On 3rd-and-9, Newton connected with Olsen for a 17-yard TD. Olsen caught the ball near the 5-yard line and spun off a defender before going into the end zone.
Atlanta almost tied the game on the ensuing possession. Tommy Gallarda was called for offensive pass interference to nullify his TD catch. Instead, Ryan was picked off by Haruki Nakamura a few plays later.
Ryan redeemed himself after Carolina was forced to punt. On the third play, Ryan threw a 49-yard bomb to White in the end zone.
The Falcons' defense followed with a big defensive play. Dunta Robinson stripped the ball away from Steve Smith and Atlanta recovered at the Carolina 30. Bryant made a 41-yard field goal to make it 10-7 with 13:11 left in the half.
The Panthers responded with a seven-play, 79-yard drive. Williams carried the ball four times during the march, including a 13-yard TD run up the middle.
Atlanta answered with an eight-play, 51-yard scoring drive following a punt from each team. White make two key catches on the drive, including a 14-yard TD catch. The score gave the Falcons a 17-14 edge at the break.
Atlanta's third offensive play of the second half resulted in a touchdown. Ryan threw a screen pass to Turner and the running back sprinted 60 yards for a score.
But the Panthers kept it close with an impressive 12-play, 77-yard drive. Newton used his legs at the end of the march to get Carolina in the end zone. After his 15-yard run on 3rd-and-8, Newton went up the middle for a 4-yard rushing TD.
Atlanta leads the all-time series between the two clubs 23-12 and has won eight of the past 10 ... Turner's TD catch was the first of his career ... The Falcons had three sacks.
09/30 18:52:43 ET