The Big Headline
It's been hard to talk about Kyle Allen this season without mentioning turnovers.
The quarterback had another three on Sunday in the Panthers 40-20 loss to the Falcons. Even if it seems hard to blame Allen for two of the turnovers, they're still a problem that has to be fixed if the Panthers want to have a chance at winning games.
Late in the second quarter, Allen threaded the needle on a perfect pass to Ian Thomas, but the tight end was unable to hang onto the ball. Instead, he tipped it up into the air and directly into the hands of Falcons' safety Damontae Kazee. You couldn't have asked for a better ball from Allen, but the stat sheet will still show a turnover by his name.
Then, to open the second half, left tackle Dennis Daley completely whiffed on an attempt to block defensive end Vic Beasley, leading to a blindside shot on an unsuspecting Allen. With a free run at the quarterback, Beasley crushed Allen like a 246-pound freight train, knocking the ball loose for the Falcons' second takeaway.
On the final play of the third quarter, Allen recorded his third turnover of the day. On a third-and-20, Allen rolled to the right and heaved an ill-advised attempt downfield that was again picked off by Kazee. The interception ended up being no different than a decent punt, but still, another blemish on Allen and the stat book.
On top of those turnovers, return man Greg Dortch, newly re-actived from the practice squad, coughed up the ball on a kick return. Since Week 7 the Panthers rank dead last in the league in turnover differential with a minus eight margin entering today's matchup. After another four turnovers on Sunday and no takeaways of their own, that margin has since grown to 12 (17 turnovers, 5 takeaways).
It's hard to score points if you can't sustain drives, and it's hard to sustain drives when you're 3-for-10 on third down.
Once again, the Panthers offense struggled on third down against the Falcons.
Whether it was a sack, an interception or an incompletion, something was always preventing the Panthers from moving the chains.
The Falcons totaled five sacks on Sunday, two of which came on third down. For reference, Atlanta hadn't recorded a sack since the last time they played the Panthers in Week 11. Entering Sunday's game, the Falcons only had 18 sacks, but they exited Week 14 with 23. Ten of those have come against the Panthers.
A new breakdown each week
It seems like each week someone new stands out against the Panthers. Just like the two-win Redskins rushing attack came alive last week, the Falcons were hitting on all cylinders on Sunday.
An Atlanta team that's tied for 30th in the league in takeaways suddenly racks up four. The Falcons, who rank 31st in the NFL in sacks, look like All-Pro pass rushers with five sacks. The newfound dominance could be seen on offense, too.
After passing for over 300 yards against the Panthers in Week 11, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was able to repeat his success on Sunday. Ryan finished the day 20-for-34 for 313 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan didn't have a single receiver carrying the load for him, though. Wide receivers Olamide Zaccheaus, Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones all totaled over 65 yards receiving, with Zaccheaus and Ridley adding on a touchdown a piece.
On the ground, the Falcons, who entered the game ranked 30th in the league in rushing, recorded just their third game of the year with over 100 rushing yards. Running backs Devonta Freeman and Brian Hill combined for over 140 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
Not giving up
With the game effectively out of reach, running back Christian McCaffrey still gave maximum effort, especially in the fourth quarter.
He trucked a defender on a run and had a number of first downs to set up Carolina's final touchdown drive late in the game.
McCaffrey had 11 catches for 82 receiving yards and another 53 rushing yards on ground.
View photos from Week 14 as Carolina visits Atlanta.