The Carolina Panthers see their undefeated season come to an end after suffering a 20-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers were able to score a touchdown on their opening drive but the Falcons responded and outscored the Panthers 20-6 over the remainder of the game.
The Panthers' offense struggled in this game as Cam Newton completed only 17 of 30 for 142 yards and the Panthers' only touchdown, which was an eight-yard run for the score. The Panthers did have a chance at the end of the game to extend their undefeated season but it was a forced fumble by Vic Beasley on Newton that ended any chance of a comeback.
The biggest reason for the struggle may have been the fact that Ted Ginn Jr. missed a majority of the game and didn't provide that deep threat that has really helped open up this offense. Ginn Jr. finished the game with only one reception for nine yards on three targets. The Panthers finished the game with their longest reception going only 19 yards, which is not typical for this offense this year.
While the aerial attack did struggle, the run game was incredibly effective with 155 rushing yards on only 20 rushing attempts. The offense collectively averaged 7.8 yards per carry with Cameron Artis-Payne leading the way with 49 rushing yards on only five carries.
For a second straight week the Panthers defense struggled to stop the opposing quarterback. They gave up 306 passing yards to Matt Ryan after giving up 245 passing yards and four touchdowns to Eli Manning. The Falcons leaned heavily on Julio Jones who had nine receptions for 178 yards, which included a 70-yard touchdown reception in the second half.
The Panthers' defense struggled getting off the field against the Falcons and allowed them to convert 9 of 15 third downs, which is well above the 35.6% they have allowed this season. This allowed the Falcons to extend drives and end up winning the time of possession battle, holding the ball for over 10 minutes longer than the Panthers.
The Panthers will need to put this one behind them as they have one regular season game left. This game has plenty of importance as a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week will lock up the number one seed in the NFC playoffs. However, a loss and two wins by the Arizona Cardinals means the Panthers will finish with the two seed.