CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Falcons, who lost their second game in five days, are a half-game behind Tampa Bay in the NFC South.

The Falcons can fall a full game back with a Tampa Bay win over Seattle on Sunday in Germany or leap back into a tie for first plays with a Bucs’ loss.

After losing to the Chargers on Sunday and the Panthers 25-15 on Thursday, the Falcons (4-6) have some time to regroup before they host Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears (3-6) at 1 p.m. Nov. 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“It was tough,” Falcons outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Any time that you take a loss, it’s hard, especially in the division. So, we have to shake it off and take advantage of this time we get off and come back ready to go to work. which I don’t doubt that anybody would do otherwise.”

Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Panthers:

1. Resurrection of the run defense: The Falcons’ run defense was steamrolled against the Panthers, who amassed 232 yards on 47 carries.

Starting with the Bears, the Falcons can expect to see heavy doses of run plays. The Bears have three players, including Fields, who have rushed for more than 300 yards.

The Falcons can TV-scout the Bears, who host the Lions at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“We have to play the run better,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “Chicago is going to come in here and try to run it 500 times. So, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

There wasn’t much fancy about the Panthers’ ground game.

“They cut back,” Smith said. “When you’re in some of those zone schemes, and they cut back and we’re out of a gap, they had some decent runs there. They kind of grinded it out.”

Carter finished with five tackles and one tackle for loss.

“There were a few mis-fits, but that happens,” Carter said. “We just have to eliminate the mistakes and keep playing hard. Hats off to them for making plays, but my guys never folded, never blinked.”

Even while giving up ground to the Panthers’ rushing attack, the defense got a stop late when the score was 22-15.

“We’re always in it,” Carter said. “That’s just our DNA. We always going to keep fighting. Keep swinging until that last whistle. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to execute the whole game. Keep ourselves from being down and having to claw back.”

2. Dropped picks: Safety Richie Grant dropped a potential interception that could have tied the score late.

Early in the contest, cornerback Darren Hall showed up to the ball but didn’t get the interception.

When the other team throws them the ball, the Falcons need to catch it.

“We just left a lot of plays out there,” nickel back Isaiah Oliver said. “Missed opportunities. We just have to come back strong.”

Oliver was blitzing on the 41-yard backward swing pass that Laviska Shenault scored on. Grant and cornerback Rashad Fenton couldn’t get off blocks.

“I just think as a defense as a whole, we weren’t as detailed as we needed to be,” Oliver said. “Whatever plays that are being called, we didn’t execute them the way they need to.”

3. Missed kicks: Kicker Younghoe Koo and punter Bradley Pinion had off-nights.

Koo missed two extra-point attempts, one wide left and the other wide right.

Pinion had punts that went 28 and 31 yards.

4. Fighting for first place: The Falcons know that the NFC South race is not over.

“Everything is still in front of us,” Oliver said. “We understand that. We have to know that and get back to work and get better. Get better next week. Get ready for Chicago.”

The Falcons plan to make the most of their mini-bye week after playing 10 consecutive games.

“I mean, definitely go over the next two days or three days, whatever it is,” Oliver said. “Just reset. Refresh. Just understand when we get back to the city, that it’s time to get to work. More detailed. More detailed. Understanding the call and what (defensive coordinator Dean) Pees wants out of the game and then just doing it.”

5. Offense was stymied: The Falcons were held to 33 yards rushing in the first half and never really got into a rhythm.

Mariota and tight end Kyle Pitts continued not to click. Pitts caught 2 of 8 targets for 28 yards.

Mariota did toss touchdowns passes to wide receivers Drake London and KhaDarel Hodge, including the first of Hodge’s NFL career.

“I don’t necessarily think that things went wrong,” London said. “I just think that we didn’t spark fast enough. That was pretty much it. Penalties. Missed plays. That was pretty much it.”

The Falcons pointed to their two touchdown drives as signs of the potential of their passing attack.

“At the end of the game, you kind of saw how well we can push the ball up the field,” London said. “At the end, we were trying to win the game. We were trying to solidify ourselves. We couldn’t get the job done.”

The Falcon took solace in that they had it down to a one-score game with 2:56 left.

“That’s something that coach Arthur preaches to us, that we are always in the fight no matter what,” London said. “This group is special because of that. We are always fighting until the end.”

For more content about the Atlanta Falcons

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

On Instagram at DorlandoLed

Atlanta Falcons coverage on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Bow Tie Chronicles

Atlanta Falcons 2022 schedule

Sept. 11: Saints 27, Falcons 26

Sept. 18: Rams 31, Falcons 27

Sept. 25 Falcons 27, Seahawks 23

Oct. 2 Falcons 23, Browns 20

Oct. 9 Buccaneers 21, Falcons 15

Oct. 16 Falcons 28, 49ers 14

Oct. 23 Bengals 35, Falcons 17

Oct. 30 Falcons 37, Panthers 34 OT

Nov. 6 Chargers 20, Falcons 17

Nov. 10 Panthers 25, Falcons 15

Nov. 20 vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.

Nov. 27 at Washington, 1 p.m.

Dec. 4 vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.


Dec. 18 at New Orleans, TBD

Dec. 24 at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Jan. 1 vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.

Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD

Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson is tackled by Carolina Panthers linebacker Cory Littleton during the first half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP