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Carolina falls to Atlanta 37-34 in heartbreaking fashion

The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Carolina Panthers 37-34 in overtime on Sunday.

Carolina dropped a critical division game on Sunday on a missed extra point.

In the closing seconds of the game Carolina tied the game at 34 on a DJ Moore touchdown. The receiver then took his helmet off, which caused a penalty that backed up the extra-point attempt to a 40 plus try. Eddy Pineiro missed it and sent the game into overtime.

Let’s break down the problems on a macro scale, then go micro.

Carolina failed to put the Falcons away. On the 13 drives the Falcons played four of them resulted in punts while two of them were interceptions. The drive before the end of regulation is one of the 13, but only spanned two plays for 11 seconds. Simply put, Carolina allowed its’ opponent to score almost at will. Marcus Mariota threw for 253 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

A game after Carolina clamped down on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, the defense fell flat against a much inferior offense.

PJ Walker threw an interception that Atlanta returned for a touchdown. This and Pineiro’s missed extra point and field goal seemed the only blemish on the offense side. But the missed field goal was in overtime, and would have won the game for Carolina. The black and blue just failed to perform on offense when it seemed imperative.

The micro problem hinted at earlier is DJ Moore and the penalty he incurred. After a 62-yard touchdown grab in the last minute of the game, Moore tied it up at 34. But he took his helmet off, which resulted in a penalty for excessive celebration. This backed the extra point far out to where it was a 40 plus yard attempt. This was a huge mental lapse for Moore, which is uncharacteristic from the veteran. Debate raged over if the penalty should be enforced when Moore was out of the field of play, but he was on the field. He should know better as a veteran of the league.

Now, the positives from this loss. PJ Walker improves on a weekly basis. He threw for 317 yards on 19-for-36 with a touchdown and an interception. He managed a drive in the closing minutes of the game that resulted in his team tying the game. This was also a road game, so this says a lot about how he’s developing into a reliable QB for Carolina. Maybe the stats won’t show this, but to assemble a drive like he did on the road made for an impressive display of leadership.

In his new starting role at running back, D’Onta Foreman proved capable of being the backfield threat the Panthers needed. On 26 carries he rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns. With a solid running offense, the team balanced its’ attack. The Panthers seemed too reliant on Christian McCaffrey, but with him in San Francisco, the team adjusted to a more balanced approach.

Overall, the Panthers played well but choked this game away.

Carolina looks ahead to a matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals in Ohio on Sunday. The game kicks off at 1 p.m.