The spotlight was on the Atlanta Falcons in their kickoff home game at Mercedes Benz Stadium. In the past, first Sundays for the Falcons have left fans, critics and the team itself wanting.
Not this Sunday.
Although it wasn’t always smooth sailing during the game, they did come away with a convincing win over the Carolina Panthers 24-10. They got off to a middling start, fell behind slightily at one point, then in the fourth quarter, put their foot on the gas and never looked back.
The biggest offensive play of the first half (and really the only key one for the Falcons at that time), was from drafted rookie Bjian Robinson, who caught an 11 yard pass from Desmond Ridder to score a touchdown. That put the Falcons ahead, for a minute. Then the game slowed down.
The Panthers would score a TD. Both teams would fail to reach the endzone multiple drives. A loud, boisterous crowd at MBS soon got quiet, and concerned.
In third quarter, not much happening other than a Younghoe Koo field goal to tie the game.
Then came the fourth quarter.
The Dirty Birds got down to business scoring two touchdowns thanks to Tyler Allgeier, putting the falcons ahead 24-10. Panthers struggled to get to the endzone the four times they had the ball, including a 13 play drive that the Falcons defense snuffed out.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 10, 2023
Allgeier gets the Sports In The ATL Gameball (🏈) for his efforts. Two touchdowns totaling 6 yards. Also noteworthy, Robinson, scoring his first touchdown as a NFL player and a Falcon in the first half (“I thought he’d do something like that today,” said Head Coach Arthur Smith after the game). Robinson racked up 56 rushing yards and 27 recieving yards. Jessie Bates helped out as well, with three forced turnovers. Rookie Troy Andersen got his first sack, which he had to share credit with team vet Grady Jarrett.
QB Desmond Ridder did well today. He went 15 of 18, got 115 yards with one touchdown. He did, however, get sacked twice. Carolina’s Bryce Young, the ex Alabama QB, went 20-38, with 146 yards a TD and 2 interceptons.
The Falcons total yardage was 221, in contrast to the Panthers 281. The Panthers also held on to the ball longer, 34 minutes as opposed to the Falcons 25 minutes. The yellow flags came in masse for the Panthers, who were hit with 9 penalties for 66 yards. Falcons? 6 for 43.
Coach Smith said after the game “I think it was overall a great team win.”
But here’s a couple of things the Falcons and their fans can really savor: winning their first home opener since 2015. The last season opener win was 2017.
And they are 1-0 for the season so far. Undefeated.
Let’s see how long they stay that way.