4 takeaways from the Panthers' huge 20-17 win vs. Falcons

4 takeaways from the Panthers' huge 20-17 win vs. Falcons

It's the first of six NFC South divisional games for the Atlanta Falcons as they travel to Charlotte to play the Carolina Panthers. After taking over on downs at the 50-yard line, the Panthers marched down the field and cut the deficit to 10-7 after a 4-yard run by rookie Christian McCaffrey. There was a three-and-out, a punt and two fumbles from Jonathan Stewart, who had two fumbles in his first four carries.

But Carolina scored two touchdowns in the final 2:35 of the first half to take a 14-10 lead into the locker room.

Atlanta entered the game 27th in the National Football League with a -5 turnover margin, and Carolina entered tied for 29th at -7.

But Carolina had its own answer at receiver in Funchess, who played a physical game with five catches for 86 yards (many after the catch), including a 33-yard long. In the third quarter, the Falcons had the ball for just three minutes and 15 seconds, gaining a total of seven yards.

All alone, Jones somehow dropped Matt Ryan's perfectly lofted pass.

The Panthers are now tied with Pittsburgh for the most road wins this season at four.

Stewart fumbled twice in the first quarter, both forced by Falcons safety Keanu Neal and recovered by Atlanta. The touchdown stood, giving Carolina a momentum-shifting lead as the teams headed into halftime. This time, the run play went to the right but ended with the same result as the defense stopped Devonta Freeman.

For Atlanta, the Falcons aren't entirely out of it, as they still have five division games still left on the slate. He also had a sack to increase his seasonal total to 6.5. Newton passed for 154 yards in the air, including a fourth-quarter touchdown strike to Kelvin Benjamin to seal the win.

The Falcons (4-4) scored 81 points in two games against the Panthers (6-3) a season ago, and it looked like they would put up a comparable number through one quarter Sunday.