The Carolina Panthers left their run defense at home Sunday.
After not giving up a 100-yard rusher in 21 games, the Panthers gave up a career-high two rushing touchdowns to Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan (who had not had two rushing scores in a season) and allowed Tevin Coleman to gain 107 yards on 16 carries. Worse, Atlanta constantly got large chunks on wide runs, and the Panthers missed tackle after tackle.
Carolina’s vaunted defense never could stop Atlanta in an 31-24 loss. This wasn’t Julio Jones torching Carolina for 300 yards receiving, but it was probably just as hard for the Panthers’ defensive coaches to stomach.
Here’s one tweet that kind of summed things up.
Offensively, the story was not much better. After scoring only 16 points against Dallas at home last week, Carolina struggled to move the ball for much of the game against Atlanta, and having several key dropped passes didn’t help any.
Despite all that, QB Cam Newton (32-45, 335 yards, 3 TDs) and the Panthers got a 51-yard DJ Moore touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter, then got a key stop on defense. That brought Newton -- who took a wicked hit in the first half that led to an ejection -- and the offense back for a potential game-tying drive.
Newton drove Carolina down the field, and threw for Moore in the end zone on the game’s final play. Moore had a shot, against two Falcons’ defenders, to score, but couldn’t make a very difficult grab.
So Carolina came up short.
And Social media reacted.