CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBS Sports) - Led by Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and a defense that allowed just three points in the second half, the visiting Falcons defeated the Panthers on Thursday night, 25-17. Ryan threw for 281 yards while rushing for a touchdown. Jones caught seven passes for 137 yards for the Falcons, who have won two out of their last three games after an 0-5 start.
Atlanta scored on four of their five first-half possessions. Younghoe Koo drilled three first-half field goals, while Ryan scored his 10th career touchdown run on a 13-yard scamper. Ryan’s score came shortly after the Falcons stonewalled Panthers quarterback Terry Bridgewater’s rushing attempt on a fourth and one play. Carolina received two first-half touchdowns from receiver Curtis Samuel. His 12-yard run gave the Panthers an early 7-3 lead, while his 29-yard score gave Carolina a 14-6 lead two minutes into the second quarter. The Falcons responded with consecutive scoring drives to take a 16-14 halftime lead.
At the start of the second half, Foyesade Oluokun and Grady Jarrett combined to stuff Panthers running back Mike Davis on fourth and a yard. The stop led to Koo’s fourth field goal, a 30-yard attempt that stretched Atlanta’s lead to five points. Atlanta was preparing the get the ball back again when the Panthers ran a fake punt featuring rookie Jeremy Chinn, who took the direct snap and rumbled 28 yards to the Falcons' 40-yard-line. The Panthers parlayed the gamble into a 39-yard field goal by Joey Slye.
Atlanta responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by Todd Gurley’s three-yard touchdown four minutes into the fourth quarter. Atlanta’s lead stayed at eight points after Koo missed the point-after attempt. The two teams traded punts before the Panthers took over at their own five-yard-line with 2:58 left. Facing a third and 18, Bridgewater connected with D.J. Moore for a 42-yard gain, as the Panthers had the ball at the Falcons' 24-yard-line. But three plays after the big completion, Bridgewater, who missed three plays after sustaining an injury to his neck/head at the start of the fourth quarter, was intercepted by Blidi Wreh-Wilson, securing the Falcons' second win of the season.