(SL) – Coming off of a couple dominating victories vs west coast teams, the Falcons traveled to Carolina to take on the Reigning league MVP Cam Newton and the Panther’s in Week 16. After making the Super Bowl last season, the Panthers have struggled to find themselves in 2016, but the Falcons definitely don’t mind taking their place atop the NFC South, and possibly repeating what the Panthers were able to do last season with a Super Bowl run of their own.
The Panthers were attempting to play spoiler and knock the Falcons from their top spot in the division, but these resilient Falcons wouldn’t give the Panthers any room to do this at all.
The Falcons came out the gate and immediately let the Panthers know that they came to Carolina to win. On Atlanta’s opening drive, Matt Ryan found receiver Joshua Perkins in the end zone and delivered a beautifully thrown pass into double coverage, in a spot where Perkins could only get to it. I still can’t believe Perkins was able to come down with the ball on this play with the way the Carolina defenders were all over him. This young Falcons receiving corps is one of the best in football, and they continue to step their game up and impress week after week.
The Panthers would do the complete opposite on their opening drive with Cam Newton throwing an interception and giving the Falcons all the momentum they would need to control this game.
This was a mostly one sided affair, and these Falcons don’t usually look back once they get out to a decent lead, so there wasn’t any real chance that they would leave Carolina without a victory, as they held onto a 20-3 lead at halftime.
In the second half the Falcons would be facing a 3rd and 21 backed up in their own territory and Matt Ryan would come through in the clutch and get the ball down the field to a wide open Tevin Coleman for a 31 yard gain. On the very next play Matt Ryan would hand the ball off to Coleman and he ripped through the Carolina defense for a 55 yard touchdown to cap remarkable drive.
Matt Ryan continues to show why he should be at the top of the MVP race throwing for two touchdowns and 277 yards as the Falcons went on to win 33-16 and move to 10-5 on the season
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen made history by becoming the first tight end in the NFL to ever have 3 consecutive 1000 yard seasons. This is a milestone that wasn’t reached by some great tight ends in league history, including former Falcon Tony Gonzalez whom many consider to be the best to ever play the position, so with that said Olsen has plenty reasons to rejoice.
Later on in the day the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost the their matchup in New Orleans to the Saints. This was an early Christmas gift for Atlanta because with the Bucs losing the Falcons clinched their first division title since 2012! The Falcons and the Saints will battle one final time next week in the Georgia Dome. That should be an exciting game to cap off a regular season that has been nothing short of extraordinary!