Film-review report card: Falcons 40, Panthers 20

The Falcons wanted to see right guard Chris Lindstrom in action.

A first-round pick in this year’s draft, Lindstrom did not disappoint while playing 36 snaps in the 40-20 win over the Panthers on Sunday.

The Falcons (4-9) rushed for a season-high 159 yards and protected quarterback Matt Ryan, who was sacked only once and hit six times.

“First on Chris, it was good to have him back,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I thought from a conditioning standpoint, he passed that to me with flying colors. I think he could have had probably even more plays than he did.”

Here are the grades:

Run offense: Running back Devonta Freeman led the way with 84 yards rushing on 17 carries and posted his first rushing touchdown of the season. Brian Hill added 62 yards on nine carries and had a rushing touchdown. On Freeman's 13-yard touchdown run Luke Stocker, playing fullback, had a nice lead block on Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. Right guard Matt Gono climbed to the second level and popped linebacker Shaq Thompson, while Julio Jones blocked cornerback James Bradberry to the sideline to create a crease for Freeman.  Grade: A

Pass offense: Matt Ryan completed 20 of 24 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with a passer rating of 109.1. Ryan eclipsed 50,000 yards passing with a 14-yard slant pattern to Russell Gage in the first quarter. Ryan stayed in the pocket and took a mighty hit on a 93-yard touchdown pass to Olamide Zaccheaus. Calvin Ridley led the way with five catches for 76 yards before leaving with a season-ending lower abdominal injury. Seven different receivers caught passes. Grade: A

Run defense: The Panthers rushed 22 times for 100 yards and a touchdown. Christian McCaffery did most of the damage, as he gained 53 yards on 11 carries. Linebacker Foye Oluokun had a nice open-field tackle on D.J. Moore on a reverse. Oluokun led the Falcons with 10 tackles.  Grade: B

Pass defense: Free safety/ball hawk Damontae Kazee intercepted two passes, and the defensive line rushed the passer well. With Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley leading the way with two sacks and two quarterback hits each, the Falcons recorded five sacks and six quarterback hits. Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen completed 28 of 41 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown. He finished with a passer rating of 76.6. McCaffrey caught 11 passes for 82 yards. Grade: A

Special teams: Kicker Younghoe Koo made 4 of 4 field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder that bounced off the right upright and went through. He also got into the mix and recovered a fumble, which he scooped up and return 3 yards. "I told Koo to go play the lotto," Quinn said. "I thought recovering a fumble and banking in a field goal was definitely worth something extra." Punter Ryan Allen signed Saturday to replace Matt Bosher, who re-injured his right groin in the closed portion of practice Friday. Ryan averaged 35 net yards on four punts and placed two down inside the 20. Kenjon Barner had two punt returns for 13 yards.  Grade: A

Coaching: The Falcons did a great job taking momentum from the Panthers with a two-minute drive at the end of the second quarter to take a 13-10 halftime lead. The defense jumped on the Panthers on the first possession of the third quarter when Beasley got a sack-strip and defensive tackle Tyeler Davison recovered. The Falcons took over and opened a 33-10 lead. The Falcons were penalized six times for 58 yards. Grade: A


Subscribe to "The Bow Tie Chronicles" podcast with the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter on iTunes or on the new AJC sports podcasts page.