Pass offense: Ryan completed 15 of 26 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns. He had a passer rating of 126.9. Wide receiver Julio Jones, who played with a rib and hip injuries, had four catches for 28 yards and a touchdown. Sanu had five catches for 81 yards and a 44-yard touchdown. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley had three catches for 90 yards and a 75-yard touchdown grab. The pass blocking was decent, but Ben Garland was whipped by Kyle Love, which led to sack-strip-fumble. Grade: B-plus
Run defense: Carolina running back Christian McCaffery rushed 21 times for 101 yards as the Panthers gained 141 yards rushing on 25 attempts for a strong 5.6 yards per carry. Grade: C
Pass defense: Defensive tackle Jack Crawford, cornerback Isaiah Oliver and nickel back Brian Poole all had interceptions in the red zone for the Falcons. The Falcons tried to get after Heinicke, who was making his first NFL start, but didn't have a great deal of success. The Falcons finished with two sacks and eight quarterback hits. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett was called for unnecessary roughness for coming in low on a hit on Heinicke. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he's sending a copy of the play to the NFL office to a get a clarification on the rule. Jarrett thought it was a good sack, too. Bruce Irvin had another sack to push his total to 3.5 with the Falcons and 6.5 on the season. Grade: B-plus.
Special teams: Kickoff specialist Matt Bosher lowered the boom on the Panthers' Kenjon Barner after a 33-yard kickoff return in the second quarter that was highlight worthy. "I thought it was pretty cool," Sanu said. "I jumped out of my seat. I was looking at the tablet and I saw it and was like oh. I had to go congratulate him – it was a big hit." Crawford also was impressed. "That honestly set the tone for the rest of the game," Crawford said. "That was a decent return, but when he leveled that guy, man. We are probably going to watch that in the defensive room because he stopped that guy on a dime." Marvin Hall bobble the first kickoff which lead to a drive starting at the 15-yard line. Grade A-minus
Coaching: The Falcons committed only four penalties, for 41 yards, but both the Panthers' touchdown and field-goal drives were aided by penalties on third down. The offense came out and took control of the game with two third-quarter touchdowns passes from Ryan to Ridley and then to Sanu. Ryan noted that both players went in "untouched" and that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian made two great calls. Both plays were off of play-action against the aggressive Panthers' defense. The defense came up with three red-zone stops. Grade A