Panthers running game comes alive in 20-17 win over Falcons

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While they were flawless inside of the red zone on Sunday during their 20-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers (6-3), the Falcons' offense couldn't get much going on third downs. The Panthers offense had their best game of the season rushing the ball with 201 rushing yards thanks to Cam Newton's 86 yards and Christian McCaffrey's 66. Holding a 10-0 lead, the Falcons twice ran the ball on third- and fourth-and-1.

Carolina entered the game ranked second in the National Football League in sacks, but their first of the game didn't come until the end of the third quarter.

Carolina is coming off a road stretch where the team played four road games in five weeks, finishing 3-1 away from home.

CHARLOTTE - When All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones dropped a wide-open 39-yard touchdown pass with just under nine minutes left in regulation Sunday, you knew what kind of day it was for the Atlanta Falcons. Jones got past Coleman and had a step on him heading into the end zone, but quarterback Matt Ryan's pass attempt was overthrown.

Carolina built a 20-10 lead on Graham Gano field goals of 31 and 45 yards on the team's first two possessions of the second half, giving the Panthers 20 unanswered points.


The Panthers are now tied with Pittsburgh for the most road wins this season at four.

After Keanu Neal forced two fumbles, one of which led to the Falcons' first touchdown, the running game got going, in large part thanks to Cam Newton.

The Falcons have won the last three games after Carolina won five of six before that. Newton passed for 154 yards in the air, including a fourth-quarter touchdown strike to Kelvin Benjamin to seal the win. He also had a sack to increase his seasonal total to 6.5.

The Falcons (4-4) scored 81 points in two games against the Panthers (6-3) a season ago, and it looked like they would put up a comparable number through one quarter Sunday.

Carolina's defense then held Ryan and the offense to four consecutive stops to get the ball back on downs, and sealed the game.

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