Rapid Reactions: Panthers beaten soundly by Falcons

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The Big Headline

In the first half, everything that could go wrong for Kyle Allen did go wrong.

On Carolina’s first possession, the offensive line collapsed around the second-year quarterback. Instead of taking the sack on third down, Allen tried to get rid of the ball with a risky pass that fell into the hands of Falcons’ linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.

Luckily for Allen, the interception didn’t result in points. The Panthers D held strong and forced a field goal attempt, which Falcons’ kicker Younghoe Koo missed.

Unfortunately for Allen, though, his struggles were just getting started.

On the Panthers’ first possession of the second quarter, Allen had moved the offense into the red zone after converting on a fourth-and-2 earlier on the drive. Then, it came screeching to a halt after Allen’s second interception of the day – one that was eerily similar to his pick last week in Green Bay. On second down, Allen had an open running lane, but instead tried to force an ill-advised pass to DJ Moore in the end zone that was undercut by Falcons’ cornerback Desmond Trufant.

Then, just before halftime, the Panthers again looked primed to get on the board and take a sliver of momentum into the locker room. With the ball on the 22-yard line and 17 seconds on the clock, at least a field goal was on the table. Instead, Allen attempted another pass to Moore that was this time picked off by Falcons’ safety Ricardo Allen, leaving the Panthers scoreless.

After starting the season with seven touchdowns and no interceptions, Allen has since thrown just three touchdowns to nine interceptions.

Allen finished the game 31-for-50 for 325 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions.

Kenjon Barner gets a bit of revenge

As bad as things looked in the first half, the Panthers were fortunate to only be trailing 20-0. Three separate times – including after the first two interceptions – the Panthers D was able to force the Falcons to attempt three field goal attempts, one of which Atlanta missed.

The unit may not have looked all world in the first half, but for the most part it was able to stand up when it mattered. Trailing 13-0 at half isn’t the end of the world.

Where things start to get out of hand, though, is when you factor in the Falcons’ 78-yard punt return for a touchdown. At the end of the first quarter, Panthers’ punter Michael Palardy out-kicked his coverage and Falcons’ return man Kenjon Barner fielded the punt. Barner, a former Panther, sidestepped gunner DeAndrew White's diving attempt and sliced his way through the coverage team all the way to the end zone.

Down 20-0 at the half is a different story.

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Atlanta overwhelms Panthers O-line

As poor as Allen may have looked on Sunday, his offensive line didn’t give him much help.

With starting left tackle Dennis Daley sidelined with a groin injury, fellow rookie Greg Little reentered the starting lineup after spending the past six weeks in concussion protocol.

Little looked rusty in his first game back, and the rest of the offensive line didn’t look particularly sharp either. Right tackle Taylor Moton missed a few early blocks which led to him being replaced by Daryl Williams for a few series.

The Falcons racked up five sacks for 55 yards as well as 10 quarterback hits and six tackles for loss. The worst part is, it’s not like Atlanta was bringing the house on a number of blitzes – most times the defensive line was wreaking havoc with just a three or four-man rush.

On top of the struggles protecting Allen, the O-line didn’t get a particularly strong push up front. The holes were few and far between for running back Christian McCaffrey, who only recorded 14 rushes for 70 yards.

CMC breaks more records

Despite the uncharacteristically low rushing numbers from McCaffrey, he still had a record-setting day.

On McCaffrey’s second carry of the game he crossed the 1,000-yard mark for the 2019 season. McCaffrey joins DeAngelo Williams (2008-2009) as just the second player in franchise history to record two career 1,000-yard rushing seasons. McCaffrey also passed Tim Biakabutuka (2,530) for fifth place among Carolina's all-time rushing leaders.

On top of breaking records on the ground, McCaffrey’s 11 receptions for 121 yards helped him rewrite receiving records, too. On McCaffrey’s fourth catch against the Falcons he passed LaDainian Tomlinson (238 catches) for the most receptions by a running back in their first three NFL seasons. McCaffrey also became the first player with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in his team’s first 10 games of a season in NFL history.

View photos from Week 11 as Carolina hosts Atlanta.

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