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Rapid Reactions: Something to celebrate

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CHARLOTTE — This was the game a lot of people needed.

Bryce Young, for sure. Chris Tabor, for another. All the Panthers players and coaches, really. But especially, all the fans who came outside on a dreadful day for a team that had won one game all year long.

If they showed up, they stayed to the end and saw the dramatic finish they've been waiting on all season.

Young and Chuba Hubbard led the Panthers to a 9-7 win over the Falcons Sunday, getting them to 2-12, which only really means something to the people who were soaked at the end of it.

When Eddy Piñeiro drilled a 23-yard field goal as time expired, it triggered a celebration no one expected in a season described the same way.

They're now 2-12, but they closed with a 17-play, 85-yard drive. That's not supposed to happen.

The conditions were miserable, and the football was for large parts of the day.

But after taking over at their own 5-yard line with 7:35 left in the game, the Panthers drove for the game-winning score. And for a moment, it all went away.

Hubbard ran like a man possessed. Young completed key passes to receivers. It was something they hadn't seen when the weather was perfect.

It doesn't mean a lot in the big picture. But if you were there, it meant everything.

— The Panthers got the turnovers they needed in the second half 

Veteran nickel Troy Hill knocked the ball away from Falcons running back Bijan Robinson, and Brian Burns recovered, triggering a wild celebration. 

Creating turnovers has been an issue for them, and the fact it gave them the ball at the Falcons' 24-yard line led to a Piñeiro field goal, which cut the lead to 7-6. 

And when the Falcons appeared close to putting the game away, safety Xavier Woods picked off Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder to give the Panthers another chance. 

The Panthers had just eight takeaways all season entering the game, and they came at a time they needed them the most.

— There's an advantage to having your special teams coach in charge, as interim coachTabor was doing everything he could to steal every yard.

He took a timeout in the first quarter so Johnny Hekker could punt with the wind instead of against it.

When it was time for a squib kick to end the first half, he had linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill replace Piñeiro to put an extra tackler on the field.

The margins were always going to be small in a game played in these conditions, and Tabor was scratching and clawing for every yard.

— Speaking of small margins, every yard was a struggle Sunday. So, giving them away was going to be a killer.

In the third quarter, Young scrambled for a 26-yard connection to DJ Chark Jr. in the red zone.

But it came back on a holding penalty on Gabe Jackson. The veteran offensive lineman came in during the third quarter, as they wanted to mix him in. He became the eighth player to appear in a game at right guard this season.

As a result of the penalty, the Panthers ended up punting (again). Jackson's a powerful blocker, and he was also key to a couple of nice Hubbard runs. But that penalty was brutal.

View all the action from the Panthers game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15.

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