Defense and running play propel the Panthers to victory over the Falcons, ending a four-game losing streak

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – The Carolina Panthers rushed for 203 total yards, knocked out Matt Ryan twice and ended their four-game losing streak with a victory over their division rival, the Atlanta Falcons.

The Carolina defense limited the Falcons (3-4) to just one field goal in the second half and thanks to four field goals from kicker Zane Gonzalez, a fourth quarter touchdown from Chuba Hubbard and an interception from Stephon Gilmore with 1:52 remaining. in the game, the Panthers (4-4) came down to .500 with the 19-13 victory.

Gilmore’s interception came in his first game with the team just weeks after being traded to the New England Patriots. He also helped contain arguably Atlanta’s most explosive offensive weapon, rookie tight end Kyle Pitts to just two receptions for 13 yards.

“We played as a team today,” said Hubbard. “We all played for each other. We do it every week, but we’ve taken it to another level today.

Quarterback Sam Darnold left late in the game with a concussion after receiving a heavy blow during a rush attempt, but threw just 24 passes as Carolina entered the race , rushing the ball 46 times. Darnold completed 13 of his passes for 129 yards.

With the only snag being a Hubbard fumble in the game’s first practice, the running of the ball worked and the Panthers for 203 rushing yards was their most in a game since Week 5 of the 2019 season. They also converted. 10 of 17 third down attempts.

Carolina didn’t score a touchdown until Hubbard’s six-yard run with 6:30 left to play, but Gonzalez made his four FG attempts, including a career-high 57 yards.

“Today was going to be a game where every point counted,” said Gonzalez. “I didn’t want to be the reason we failed.”

The baskets were enough as the Panthers fired quarterback Matt Ryan three times and intercepted him twice. He finished the day with just 146 passing yards. Atlanta’s only touchdown was a pass from Ryan to Cordarelle Patterson in the second quarter.

They had a chance to take the lead before Hubbard’s touchdown, but kicker Younghoe Koo missed a 45-yard field goal attempt.

Linebacker Shaq Thompson, returning from a three-game injury absence, had one of the picks and a record 10 tackles.

Things weren’t pretty though, as the team got down to it late in the game after Erik Harris took a hard hit on Carolina wide receiver Robby Anderson.

“Since 2015, Carolina and Atlanta have always been there,” Thompson said after the game, “Everyone remembers that slippery shot on Cam Newton.”

Running back Ameer Abdullah, who was claimed on waivers by Carolina two weeks ago, ran eight times for 31 yards and Darnold had his own 66 rushing yards.

The Panthers host the New England Patriots next Sunday.

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