Final

Panthers 20

(0-2, 0-1 away)

Falcons 28

(2-0, 2-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 20, 2009

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA 

1 2 3 4 T
CAR 3 10 0 720
ATL 7 14 0 728

Top Performers

Passing: J. Delhomme (CAR) - 308 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: M. Turner (ATL) - 28 CAR, 105 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: S. Smith (CAR) - 8 REC, 131 YDS

Falcons intercept Delhomme to secure victory

Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Matt Ryan has a new favorite receiver. No surprise who it is.

Fast Facts

• Matt Ryan threw for a career-high three touchdowns as the Falcons improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2006.

• Michael Turner rushed for a game-high 105 yards and a TD on 28 carries, his fifth 100-yard game in his last eight games.

• Jake Delhomme, who had thrown nine interceptions in his previous two games (including a playoff loss to the Cardinals), threw another pick but recorded his 10th 300-yard passing game, a Panthers record.

• Steve Smith led all wideouts with eight catches for 131 yards, his 31st career 100-yard receiving game.

• Rapid Reaction

-- ESPN Stats & Information

Ryan threw three touchdown passes, hooking up with Tony Gonzalez for the second week in a row, and the Atlanta Falcons held off the Carolina Panthers 28-20 on Sunday.

Through his first two games with the Falcons, Gonzalez has 12 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Just what Atlanta had in mind when it dealt for a tight end who figures to end up in Canton -- and starting 2-0 is just what Gonzalez had in mind when he asked to be traded by lowly Kansas City.

The Falcons already have matched the Chiefs' win total for all of last season.

"Not a bad start at all," Gonzalez said. "It's just great to be part of a team like this."

More from ESPN.com

If third down is indeed the money down, then Falcons QB Matt Ryan proved his worth with a stellar Week 2 performance, writes Len Pasquarelli. Story


After an 0-2 start, Jake Delhomme's the best thing the Panthers have going for them right now. The real problems with this team are on defense and that's the good news, writes Pat Yasinskas. Blog

Ryan had a big first half, which included a brilliant fingertip grab by Gonzalez on a 24-yard score. Jason Snelling and Roddy White also hauled in TD passes, giving Atlanta a 21-13 lead at the break.

Ryan completed 13 straight passes at one point and finished 21 of 27 for 220 yards, though he did have his first interception of the season. Gonzalez led the Falcons again with seven receptions for 71 yards.

"He's one of the greatest tight ends of all time," Ryan said. "That was a huge pickup for us. He makes big plays for us in different situations when we need him. I've enjoyed playing with him thus far."

Slight Improvement

Carolina QB Jake Delhomme was booed off the field in Week 1 against the Eagles. He turned it around in Week 2, though his only mistake came late in the game (an interception at the Falcons' 17-yard line).

Delhomme by game
Week 1 Week 2
Cmp-Att 7-17 25-41
Yds 73 308
TD-Int 0-4 1-1
Passer rtg 14.7 82.2

Jake Delhomme played much better for the Panthers, looking nothing like the quarterback who had 11 turnovers in his last two games. But his 25-of-41, 308-yard passing performance was marred by that familiar problem -- an interception with 2 1/2 minutes remaining near the Atlanta end zone -- and the defending NFC South champions are off to an 0-2 start.

"It couldn't be any worse than last week," said Delhomme, referring to his four-interception, one-fumble fiasco in a 38-10 loss to Philadelphia. "I felt good out there today. Last week, I put too much pressure on myself. This week, I got back to being just plain Jake."

The Falcons looked to be in good shape after Michael Turner powered over from the 1 with 12:27 remaining, stretching the lead to 28-13 lead.

Back came Delhomme and the Panthers. A 10-play, 80-yard drive made it 28-20, and Carolina was in position to force overtime with a touchdown and a two-point conversion after driving to a first down at the Falcons 17. But three straight incompletions left the Panthers in desperation mode.

On fourth-and-10, Delhomme tried to force in a pass to Steve Smith near the end zone. Chris Houston stepped in front to pick it off at the 4 before being slammed out bounds by Smith, who had a huge game with eight catches for 131 yards despite being hurt on the final play of the first half.

The Panthers had one last chance after forcing an Atlanta punt. Delhomme completed four straight passes to get the ball to the Atlanta 43 with eight seconds left.

For the final pass, the Falcons stationed 6-foot-5 receiver Brian Finneran as an extra defensive back. Finneran and Brent Grimes went up together to bat the ball down, and Grimes got a hand on it -- but nearly knocked it to a Carolina receiver. Dwayne Jarrett dove for the ball and rolled over cradling it, but it clearly hit the turf before he got his hands extended.

The replay officials upstairs ordered a review, just to make sure the clock had run out. The head coaches and a couple of players from each team were the only ones left on the field when the game officially ended.

"I guess we would've had to go get some guys out of the showers," Falcons coach Mike Smith joked.

DeAngelo Williams scored on a 3-yard run to give Carolina a short-lived 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. John Kasay kicked a couple of field goals, including a 50-yarder.

Gonzalez isn't the only newcomer off to a great start with the Falcons. Linebacker Mike Peterson had a big game for the second week in a row, leading the team with nine tackles, forcing a fumble, breaking up a pass and catching a punt that was blocked by Brian Williams.

Game notes


The Falcons are 2-0 for only the second time in the last 11 years. ... Richard Marshall picked off Ryan in the first quarter but was called for a crucial pass interference penalty that set up Turner's TD. ... Atlanta sustained a potentially damaging loss when its first-round pick, DT Peria Jerry, was carted to the training room in the fourth quarter, appearing to have injured his left knee. The Falcons did not reveal the seriousness of his condition. ... RB Jerious Norwood took a blow to the head on his only carry and didn't return. Snelling filled in well, hauling in the first TD catch of his career. ... The Falcons wore throwback uniforms from their debut season in 1966.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
CAR
ATL
1st Downs2423
Passing 1st downs
1612
Rushing 1st downs
810
1st downs from penalties
01
3rd down efficiency
7-126-12
4th down efficiency
0-12-2
Total Plays6764
Total Yards440371
Yards per play6.65.8
Total Drives109
Passing296220
Comp-Att
25-4121-27
Yards per pass
7.08.1
Interceptions thrown
11
Sacks-Yards Lost
1-120-0
Rushing144151
Rushing Attempts
2537
Yards per rush
5.84.1
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-33-4
Penalties6-356-40
Turnovers22
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
11
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession28:2831:32

Passing Leaders

CARC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Delhomme25/413087.5111-12
ATLC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Ryan21/272208.1310-0

Rushing Leaders

CARCARYDSAVGTDLG
Williams16794.9116
Stewart9657.2028
ATLCARYDSAVGTDLG
Turner281053.8116
Snelling6376.2020

Receiving Leaders

CARRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith813116.4028
Muhammad44711.8019
ATLRECYDSAVGTDLG
Gonzalez77110.1124
White6538.8117

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERCARATL
carFG9:53John Kasay 38 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 60 yds, 5:08
30
atlTD0:43Tony Gonzalez 24 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Jason Elam Kick is Good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 53 yds, 1:02
37
SECOND QUARTERCARATL
carTD12:31Deangelo Williams 3 Yard Run (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yds, 3:12
107
atlTD5:16Jason Snelling 10 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Jason Elam Kick is Good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 80 yds, 7:15
1014
carFG1:54John Kasay 50 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 48 yds, 3:21
1314
atlTD0:53Roddy White 7 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Jason Elam Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 56 yds, 0:59
1321
FOURTH QUARTERCARATL
atlTD12:27Michael Turner 1 Yard Run (Jason Elam Kick is Good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 47 yds, 6:52
1328
carTD6:53Dante Rosario 11 Yard Pass From Jake Delhomme (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 5:38
2028