Falcons cling on to lead in Carolina road win

Atlanta Falcons (2-6) have blown fourth-quarter leads in losses to the Cowboys, Bears and Lions, but a late Blidi Wreh-Wilson interception of Teddy Bridgewater clinches road win over Carolina Panthers (3-5)

Last Updated: 30/10/20 6:10am

Atlanta running back Todd Gurley intentionally scored on a three-yard touchdown run a week on from accidentally finding the endzone in a loss to the Lions
Atlanta running back Todd Gurley intentionally scored on a three-yard touchdown run a week on from accidentally finding the endzone in a loss to the Lions

The Atlanta Falcons avoided another fourth-quarter collapse as they held out for a vital 25-17 road win over NFC South divisional rivals Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 281 yards and scored on a 13-yard touchdown run, while running back Todd Gurley, who came in for criticism after the Week Seven loss to the Detroit Lions, intentionally found the endzone in the fourth quarter.

  • Falcons stats: Matt Ryan, 21/30, 281 yards, 1 INT
  • Rushing leader: Todd Gurley, 18 carries, 46 yards, 1 TD
  • Receiving leader: Julio Jones, seven catches, 137 yards

Gurley had accidentally scored a late TD against the Lions last week, instead of allowing himself to be tackled short of the goal line, running down the clock before a game-winning field goal try. Instead, Detroit drove down the field to score in the final seconds.

It was the third time the Falcons had embarrassingly let a fourth-quarter lead slip away this season, and there might have been fears of a fourth as Younghoe Koo missed with the extra-point attempt after Gurley’s touchdown run, keeping it a one-score, eight-point game.

  • Panthers stats: Teddy Bridgewater, 15/23, 176 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • Rushing leader: Mike Davis, 13 carries, 66 yards
  • Receiving leader: Robby Anderson, five catches, 48 yards

The Panthers took possession from their own five-yard line with three minutes remaining and made their way into Atlanta territory until, on third-and-six from the Falcons 30-yard line, Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was intercepted by Blidi Wreh-Wilson. The Falcons then ran the final minute off the clock to clinch an important road win.

Scoring summary

Falcons 3-0 Panthers Younghoe Koo 20-yard field goal
Falcons 3-7 Panthers Curtis Samuel 12-yard TD run (extra point)
Falcons 6-7 Panthers Younghoe Koo 37-yard field goal
Falcons 6-14 Panthers Teddy Bridgewater 29-yard TD pass to Curtis Samuel (extra point)
Falcons 13-14 Panthers Matt Ryan 13-yard TD run (extra point)
Falcons 16-14 Panthers Younghoe Koo 36-yard field goal
Falcons 19-14 Panthers Younghoe Koo 29-yard field goal
Falcons 19-17 Panthers Joey Slye 39-yard field goal
Falcons 25-17 Panthers Todd Gurley three-yard TD run (failed extra point)

Bridgewater threw for 176 yards in the game, with a touchdown and an interception, but had a spell on the sideline late in the third quarter with a neck injury after taking a heavy hit from Falcons defensive end Charles Harris – for which he was ejected from the game. Bridgewater returned with just under 10 minutes left in the fourth.

Receiver Curtis Samuel earlier scored two touchdowns for Carolina, who were without All Pro running back Christian McCaffrey for the sixth consecutive game, despite him returning to practice earlier in the week as he recovers from an ankle injury.

Samuel scored on a 12-yard run in the first quarter and caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Bridgewater on a flea flicker in the second as the Panthers pulled out into a 14-6 lead – Atlanta having to settle for field goals after impressive opening drives.

Falcons kicker Younghoe was 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts, connecting from 20, 37, 36 and 29 yards, though he did miss with that extra-point try in the fourth quarter that might have proven costly.

Instead, his kicking, along with Ryan’s touchdown run later in the second quarter and Gurley’s in the fourth, saw Atlanta to victory as the Carolina offence, meanwhile, stalled in the second half.

Falcons receiver Julio Jones churned out another big game against the Panthers, posting 137 yards on seven catches.

Victory sees Atlanta (2-6) improve to 2-1 under interim head coach Raheem Morris, while Carolina (3-5) have followed up a three-game win streak with three-straight losses.

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Source : Sky Sports