Panthers running game comes alive in 20-17 win over Falcons

Lawrence Cooper
November 6, 2017

Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers runs for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the second quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 5, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. More troublesome, was the Falcons' struggles in short-yardage situations. Here are five things we learned from Carolina's gritty win over Atlanta. The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder has turned the clock back to his Auburn days when he routinely tore up defenses with his legs.

-After debuting with 47 yards on 13 carries in Week 1, McCaffrey totaled just 70 rushing yards over his past seven games.

Atlanta enters Sunday's tilt with the fifth-ranked offense in the National Football League, averaging 374.4 total yards per contest.

-The offense was OK in its first game since trading Benjamin.

Speaking of the passing game, the post-Benjamin era did not get off to a great start.

The Falcons also struggled to slow down rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, who finished with 94 all-purpose yards and his first career rushing touchdown.

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Two plays later, safety Mike Adams picked off Ryan and his 40-yard return put the Panthers at the Atlanta 31 with 1:15 before halftime.

The longest-tenured offensive player on the Panthers may have watched his time as the team's leading ballcarrier come to an end on Sunday.

However, the 10-year veteran's fumbling problem could cost him playing time.

Atlanta narrowly escaped the New York Jets in Week 8 with a 25-20 victory, keeping the Falcons within a game back of Carolina for second place in the NFC South. The Panthers didn't exactly light it up on offense, but the stingy defense did the job. Panthers K Graham Gano has made 19 of 20 field-goal attempts this season, adding two successful boots Sunday. Luke Kuechly (11 tackles) spearheads a physical, tough unit that can stop the run and the pass. He only threw for 137 yards but rushed for 86 and a touchdown on the ground. If the defense keeps up this level of performance, the Panthers will be in the playoff mix the rest of the way. He's now equaled that totaled through just eight games this season. Meanwhile, Atlanta went into a funk, no play perhaps more telling than all-pro receiver Julio Jones dropping a wide open touchdown pass on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter.

Matt Bosher averaged an impressive 49 yards per punt on his four attempts.

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