Teddy Bridgewater arrived in Atlanta riding a two-game winning streak and the Atlanta Falcons did little to stem the tide as the Dirty Birds lose 23-16 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Panthers are now 3-2 and tied for the division lead with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bridgewater finished the day with 313 passing yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s a great team win, we knew it would be a very physical battle,” Bridgewater explained. “Coach [Rhule] said [Falcons head coach] Dan Quinn said something to him during pregame about, “Let’s Battle” and we knew it would be a battle.”

Falcons running back Todd Gurley ran for 121 yards on fourteen carries and scored a touchdown in the first quarter. That touchdown was the fifth of the 2020 campaign and Gurley’s 75th of his career, making the former Georgia Bulldog the fourth-fastest to reach that mark before his 27th birthday, joining Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Jim Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Randy Moss.

“Sucks man, you know,” Gurley said after the game. “To start out this way sucks a little bit more because it is the fifth loss and a divisional opponent but got to keep going. Lots of guys it would be easy to check out right now, but winners do not quit. We just got to find a way. Just focus on yourself. Focus on getting better. Lots of stuff is out of our control right now, but just got to get the job done.”

One of the more confounding takeaways from this game took place after the Falcons were up 7-6 with 9:06 remaining in the second quarter. Offensively, the Panthers exploited Atlanta’s penchant for going man-to-man in coverage. On 3rd-and-4 at the Carolina 43 yard line, Bridgewater found wide receiver D.J. Moore, and he raced 57 yards down the sideline for the touchdown, putting Carolina ahead 13-7. The Panthers would not trail again.

On the afternoon, Robby Anderson led the Panthers with 112 receiving yards. Moore had 92 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. Stephenson High School standout, running back Mike Davis had sixteen carries for 89 yards and caught nine passes out of the backfield for 60 yards. Davis caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Bridgewater after Atlanta linebacker Deion Jones failed to cover Davis as he leaked out into the right flat.

“It is tough,” explained Falcons center Alex Mack. “That is one of those areas where you need to perform better. We need to be able to get points. You want to get touchdowns. It is just tough. It is one of those things where you can make an adjustment or play a little bit better. You need to play better earlier in the game. I think the first half we could do better as an offensive line protecting to get more production on that two-minute drive. I think we gave up too much pressure. We need to play better. We need to be productive there, get points, and keep them from getting the ball. That was a big swing. I think we recovered well in the second half. When it is a tight game like that you cannot do that.”

Matt Ryan finished the day with 226 passing yards and one interception. Calvin Ridley had eight receptions on ten targets for 136 yards. Julio Jones did not play due to a lingering hamstring injury.

“I just had to throw it away and live to fight another down,” said Ryan when asked about the interception. “We didn’t really have anything there and not the time to just kind of lob one up. So that sucks. That’s part of it. It’s not fun but that’s part of playing sports. When you have the ball in your hand you’ve got to make decisions. I made the wrong one there, wrong play and it cost us. That was a tough one.”

LOOKING AHEAD

The Carolina Panthers will face the Chicago Bears in Uptown Charlotte next week. Meanwhile, the Falcons will face off against the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis.

Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis (28) celebrates in end zone his touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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