Panthers concede to Falcons

Carolina rallied from 14 down in the 4th quarter and scored 21 unanswered points to take the lead with 3:37 remaining in the game. Atlanta would then rally and tie the game on a 4th and 12 Michael Vick scramble for a touchdown.<br><br> But did the Panthers march down the field and have another spectacular finish? No, They "laid down their swords".

The Carolina Panthers failed to keep the magic alive on Saturday, bowing to the Atlanta Falcons 34-31 in overtime.

Carolina rallied from 14 down in the 4th quarter and scored 21 unanswered points to take the lead with 3:37 remaining in the game. Atlanta would then rally and tie the game on a 4th and 12 Michael Vick scramble for a touchdown.

With 1:37 left in the game and 1 timeout remaining, Carolina inexplicably chose to run out the clock and take their chances in overtime.

The Panthers started the final drive on their 20 after Jay Feely kicked the kickoff into the end zone.

Delhomme struck quickly, hitting Ricky Proehl for a 13 yard pass to the 33 yard line.

1st and 10, 33 yard line, 1:30 left on the clock, and 1 timeout. All they need is a Field Goal to win the game and nearly secure their spot in the playoffs.

Then, the Panthers decided to run Nick Goings to the right, where he lost 6 yards on the play. Reviewing the tape, it seemed as if Goings was designed to attempt a pass downfield, but no such pass came. Instead of throwing it out of bounds and stopping the clock, Goings run cost the Panthers 6 yards and 28 seconds on the clock.

The next play, Jordan Gross jumped early and was called for a false start penalty, diving the Panthers back to the 22 yard line for 2nd and 21.

Instead of trying to pass with 1:01 left in the game, the Panthers once again ran up the middle for a measly 5 yards to the 27 yard line, and then ran out the clock in regulation.

After the game, Coach Fox was asked why they had seemingly chosen to concede regulation and play for overtime. "If they had intercepted and ran it in for a touchdown, that wouldn't have looked too bright, either," Fox said after the heartbreaking loss.

The reaction was mixed in the Panthers locker room. Jeff Mitchell agreed with the coaches decision to run time out. "It's definitely the end of the game call. It's a no-brainer. You've got to do that."

Other players, like Wide Receiver Muhsin Muhammad were obviously frustrated. "I just play," Muhammad told the press after the game. "I don't make the decisions. I just play. I thought we definitely had an opportunity. A minute and 30-some seconds left in the game, and we definitely had enough time to make something happen."

What is equally baffling is the play calling in Overtime.

The Panthers luckily won the coin flip and had the fist possession in Overtime. With the ball on the 19 yard line, Nick Goings ran right for 1 yard. Running right is perhaps the weakest direction he could run, as Carolina's least talented and least mobile lineman Matt Willig was manning the right tackle position for the injured Todd Fordham.

On 2nd and 9 from the 20, Delhomme overthrew a streaking Muhsin Muhammad down the center of the field. Muhammad left the game winded.

3rd and 9, from the 20, Delhomme goes back and throws another Bomb to Ricky Proehl, but missed high, and is picked off by Atlanta's Aaron Beasley, who returned it 30 yards to the Panthers 23. Jay Feely would then come on and nail the game-winning field goal and seal the Panthers' fate.

The Panthers felt it was risky to throw deep in regulation, as Coach Fox attested, but then inexplicably threw deep twice when they were in worse field position in overtime.

Panthers Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning denied interview requests on Sunday.

The Panthers, at 6-8 are tied with the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints for the 6th and final Wild Card Playoff Seed in the NFC. Since Carolina beat both New Orleans and St. Louis already this season, they win the tie-breaker for now. If Carolina wins their remaining games against Tampa Bay in Tampa and New Orleans in Charlotte they stand a very good chance of finishing the season 8-8 and obtaining that final Wild Card seed officially.

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