Sunday afternoon, the Atlanta Falcons fell to the Carolina Panthers 19-13 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a defensive battle. Key mistakes doomed the Falcons chances as the Panthers put a stop to their four-game losing streak. Let’s do a deep dive into the five lessons we learned from today’s game.

1) Matt Ryan is not invincible

Ryan was knocked down and got stepped on late in the second quarter. His hand was bleeding profusely, but he’d re-enter the game with 1:44 remaining in the first half with a black glove on his left hand. On the afternoon, Ryan completed 20-of-27 passes for 146 yards. He threw one touchdown and two interceptions. Ryan was also hit nine times. The Panthers got after Ryan all day long and his pocket was not clean, literally.

2) Carolina’s defense showed up

The Panthers’ secondary smothered the Falcons wide receivers all game long. After a stellar performance in the last two games, the Panthers held Falcons rookie Kyle Pitts to two catches for 13 yards. He was bracketed all day long by new acquisition Stephon Gilmore and safety Jeremy Chinn. Pitts admitted that Gilmore was a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the cornerback did things today that he didn’t see on tape. However, Pitts pledged to learn from this performance and step his game up.

3) Carolina’s Sam Darnold laid it on the line

The embattled signal-caller has had his critics since during the four-game losing streak. While he may get the ball out late or hang his receivers out to dry, Darnold had a good afternoon. However, With 7:37 left in the 4th quarter the referee directed Darnold to the sidelines after he was hit by Falcons linebacker Foye Oluokun. He was evaluated and would be later ruled out for the remainder of the game with a concussion.

4) Field Goals Matter!

What good is a drive if you can’t score touchdowns? Only two of them were scored on the day. Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo missed a 45 yard field to the right with 14:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. On the ensuing drive, the Panthers went down the field in 15 plays, traveling 65 yards and running back Chuba Hubbard scored a six-yard touchdown with 6:35 remaining in the game. Overall, the Panthers controlled the ball for 35:23 compared to 24:37 for Atlanta.

5) Calvin Ridley shares mental health update

Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley shared an updated regarding his absence from today’s game. It reads in part:

These past few weeks have been very challenging and as much as I’d like to be on the field competing with my teammates, I need to step away from football at this time and focus on my mental wellbeing. This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future.

“It’s no different than an injury in any other spot,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said of Ridley. “Sometimes, you know, there’s gametime decisions and you got to adjust as part of being a professional and going out there and being ready to go. So I don’t think it affected the guys, but certainly wish Calvin all the best. We love him and support him. He’s a great friend and a great person. I’ll support him as he’s going through this.”

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) runs out of the pocket against Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Haason Reddick (43) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Dawn has ascended through the ranks at the The Atlanta Voice. Starting out as Sports Editor in 2017, Montgomery currently serves as the Chief Brand Officer. Montgomery earned a Bachelor's degree from Oglethorpe...