Atlanta Falcons end season with embarrassing loss to Carolina Panthers


Well, we all knew what this game was for.

The NFC South. A run into the playoffs. Just a little bit more respect in an otherwise forgettable season.

But the Atlanta Falcons didn’t show up tonight against the Carolina Panthers, and suffered what will be remembered as the most embarrassing loss of the season: a 34-3 blowout.

There’s really not much to say about this one except that the team was terrible on almost every level. Diehard Falcons apologists will claim that the refs ruined the game for the team at the start of the game, and there were certainly some questionable calls, but not so many that would excuse a 31-point deficit.

To put it as simply as possible, the Panthers were the much better team tonight, and now Cam Newton and company will head into the playoffs while the Falcons will look forward to the offseason. And that’s sure to be… interesting at the very least. Many are expecting Mike Smith‘s firing to come quickly now that the team is done, with some of our own writers expecting that news to come as early as tomorrow.

We don’t have any actual reports to support that, but if you’ve been following the Falcons even half-heartedly this year, you’ve known that Smith’s days have been numbered for a good while.

But, back to the “game.”

The Panthers got the ball first and proceeded to milk the clock during a 12-play, 7:10 drive that led to a 21-yard field goal. The Falcons took over, punted the ball, and five minutes later the Panthers were looking at a five-yard touchdown pass from Newton to Ed Dickson and a 10-0 lead with the first quarter over.

On the first drive for the Falcons in the second quarter Matt Ryan led the team down the field to the red zone, but the team couldn’t get the ball in the end zone even with a 1st and 7 opportunity on the Panther’s seven-yard line. Ryan passed to Harry Douglas for four yards, but the following two passing attempts (on the three-yard line) were incomplete and the team settled for a field goal.

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That was the first and last time Atlanta would put anything up on the scoreboard.

Carolina went on to dominate the game, scoring 24 unanswered points that led to an extremely comfortable 34-3 victory and the NFC South Division–and the playoffs.

The Panthers finished with 112 passing yards (6.6 yards per pass) and 194 rushing yards (5.5 yards per rush), while the Carolina defense provided the team with 12 points thanks to a pair of Ryan pick-6’s.

Speaking of Matty Ice, he didn’t exactly play well, and while poor pass protection was certainly a factor, it should not push all of the blame away from him. He was sacked six times, and was 29-for-47 with 260 yards and the two interceptions.

Just an ugly performance all around for the Falcons, but guess what?

This is Atlanta. It’s playoff time. If you aren’t used to it yet, get out while you still can.