Atlanta found a way to out-everything Carolina this week. A 17-0 start and a late Carolina collapse doomed the Panthers to a miserable loss on the road in an important NFC South matchup. Instead of putting Atlanta away for good for the year, Atlanta's now a game back and Tampa Bay is ahead due to tie breakers.
Carolina failed in all phases at different points, with the defense starting things off and the offense generating nothing in the first quarter; the special teams and defense failed late. The team looked to take an edge on in the second quarter, coming back and looking respectable, and in the third the Falcons looked worn down; one good drive and the Falcons had momentum again and were scoring at will.
An upside is that Jake Delhomme was able to answer the bell, so to speak. After a terrible game and a statistically good one that wasn't productive, Delhomme was able to drive the team back and was able to pass on the Falcons at will once he was rolling. The team will need more of this if they insist on being behind from the start of the game. Another saw Deangelo Williams score for the fourth week in a row, a remarkable feat that places him rightfully as high as any Panther ever.
The downside, of course, is that the inconsistencies of the year were in full force and only got worse over time; the team starts slow, it sometimes finishes too quickly. This is a team that, at 8-3, is still sitting pretty if it plays its cards right, but that's not how they're playing them now.