ATLANTA — There's always plenty of weird when the Panthers and Falcons get together.
Sunday might have been the topper.
The Panthers fell 37-34 to the Falcons in overtime in one of the strangest ways possible, with each team throwing what appeared to be game-changing haymakers late.
The Panthers came back for what looked like a game-winning 62-yard touchdown to DJ Moore with 12 seconds left in the game, but Moore was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for removing his helmet during the totally understandable celebration, and with the ensuring extra point backed up 15 yards, Eddy Piñeiro missed the extra point to send it to overtime tied at 34.
During a season in which they've already changed coaches and traded their best offensive player for draft picks, the hero throw by PJ Walker (a guy who would have been cut after training camp if not for two other quarterback injuries) was almost something you come to expect.
Because nothing about this season has been as expected.
It was the kind of off-the-charts unusual you've come to expect when these two teams get together, and the fact it couldn't be decided in the normal 60 minutes of football was appropriate.
And the extra time did nothing to make this more normal.
Panthers cornerback CJ Henderson (who has been on the other end of some big plays) appeared to ice the game with an interception in overtime, but Piñeiro missed a 32-yard field goal which would have ended it with 5:54 left in overtime.
From there, the Falcons were able to get into position for a 41-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo with 1:55 left, an anticlimactic end to the day.
The Panthers walked in with a chance to claim a share of first place in the division, but even at 2-6, they have to feel like they took a step in some direction. It almost felt forward, as much as it can when you're 2-6.
— Safety Juston Burris left the game in the second half and didn't return with a concussion.
That had the Panthers adjusting personnel and trying to patch together a defense that's still without safety Jeremy Chinn (who's eligible to return as soon as next week).
Last year, the Panthers held Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts to a combined seven catches for 74 yards, but he had five for 80 and a touchdown Sunday.
Pitts is a hard cover anyway, but when you're short in the middle, it makes it that much more difficult.
— The Panthers continued to show themselves capable of making big plays on defense.
Cornerback Donte Jackson got things started early, picking off Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota on the second play of the game (while covering Byrd).
— Jackson spent a few minutes in the blue medical tent in the first half, as he's done in recent weeks. Then he came out of it and continued to play on his sore ankle, as he's done in recent weeks. He was also down on the field late in the fourth before he was eventually carted into the locker room with an ankle injury.
View best in-game photos from Carolina's Week 8 game against the Atlanta Falcons.