Top 10 moments in Falcons-Panthers rivalry

The Atlanta Falcons are having one of the most unimpressive starts to a season in franchise history. Following Sunday’s 26-16 loss to the division rival Carolina Panthers, the team remains winless in 2020, but holds a 32-19 record in the 35-year history of the series. Here are ten of the best moments in the long rivalry between the Falcons and the Panthers to take your mind off the atrocious play in recent weeks. 

  • September 30, 2012: Falcons 30-28 Panthers

Those Falcons fans who remember the talent of former wide receiver Roddy White know this game was one of his best. Atlanta was in front most of the game until the Panthers stormed back, pinning the team at their one-yard line, down one point, with 59 seconds to go.

Surprisingly, the Falcons went to a play-action out of their endzone before Matt Ryan threw a 59-yard bomb to White. The play set-up a series of quick completions that put kicker Matt Bryant in a position to nail a 40-yard field goal and win the game.

In perhaps his most memorable off-field moment, Ryan appeared to yell, “Get the f— off my field,” to the Panthers as they exited the field.

  • December 18, 2004: Falcons 34-Panther 31 Overtime

Taking a trip back a decade and a half or so lands us in a time when Michael Vick was dominating the NFL with his unheard-of quarterback play. At the time, NFL teams did not plan for the quarterback to run. There were no read options, no run-pass options, and certainly no quarterbacks faster than their receivers. 

As such, the gameplans for defenses all changed when Michael Vick entered the league in 2001 and electrified a struggling Falcons offense. This game was no exception, and the Falcons found themselves down seven points on the final drive of regulation. Vick’s 12-yard touchdown secured an overtime spot for the Falcons, who would later win the game on a field goal from Jay Feely.

  • December 27, 2015: Falcons 20-13 Panthers

This game was quite crazy. The 7-8 Falcons came in as seven-point underdogs facing an undefeated Panthers team that had demolished them just a few weeks before.

Quarterback Cam Newton, who would win NFL MVP and earn a Super Bowl appearance, led one of the most dangerous Panthers offenses in recent history. Both teams put up impressive defensive plays for most of the game until the Falcons went deep to Julio Jones. 

In what is arguably one of Jones’s most spectacular catches, the Alabama product snagged a deep pass from Matt Ryan over the head of linebacker Luke Kuechly before scampering into the endzone for a 70-yard touchdown. The game ruined Carolina’s chance at a perfect season and showed that division rivalries are always action-packed.

  • December 11, 2011: Falcons 31-23 Panthers

The 2011 season feels like forever ago, partially because it was. Nine years ago, rookie Julio Jones was making his first impressions on the NFL world, and in this game against Carolina, he left a lasting mark.

The Falcons were playing poorly throughout most of the game (some things never change) until a late resurgence sparked by a pair of touchdown receptions by Jones fueled a 23-point comeback. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns in the second half, allowing the team to cruise to a comfortable victory.

  • October 2, 2016: Falcons 48-33 Panthers

In yet another spectacular performance from Julio Jones (starting to see a recurring theme here?), the Falcons offense was on fire. Throwing for 503 yards and four touchdowns, Matt Ryan exposed a weak Carolina secondary with the help of his favorite weapon in Jones.

The all-pro receiver set a franchise record, notching 300 receiving yards and one touchdown on the day. On a day when the Falcons were setting all sorts of records, the Panthers struggled to find their identity. Shortly after the game, the Panthers released cornerback Bene Benwikere, who tried to cover Jones.

  • November 11, 2019: Falcons 29-3 Panthers

In one of the Falcon’s most dominant games in Bank Of America Stadium in Charlotte, the team put on a defensive masterclass. The Falcons defense was the highlight of the game, allowing just one field goal to the Panthers on the day.

On the offensive end receivers, Julio Jones and Calvin ridley combined for 234 yards and a touchdown. The game marked an ending to a 2019 campaign that saw Atlanta win six of their final eight games.

  • November 23, 2008: Falcons 45-28 Panthers

Matt Ryan may have only been a rookie in 2008, but he certainly didn’t play like one. Besides earning the nickname ‘Matty Ice’ for his multiple last game-winning drives, he also helped put up a whopping 45 points against Carolina in week 12. Rookie Harry Douglas also showed up big time in the game, returning a punt for a touchdown.

  • December 24, 2016: Falcons 33-16 Panthers

The Falcons swept the Panthers in 2016 in a fashionable style. The 33-16 game helped the team take the NFC South division title and make a Superbowl appearance. The 2016 season was widely successful for the Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan, who earned the NFL MVP. 

  • December 8, 2019: Falcons 40-20 Panthers

The Falcons may have had a disappointing 2019 campaign, but as mentioned earlier, the team was able to win six of their final eight games, including this one against the Panthers. Matt Ryan threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns, including a 93-yard touchdown throw to wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus.

  • September 3, 1995: Falcons 23-20 Panthers Overtime

It all started in an overtime thriller back in 1995. The Falcons won the game thanks to a 35-yard field goal in overtime from kicker Morten Anderson. The starting quarterback for Atlanta was Jeff Geroge, who threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns. 

The Falcons-Panthers rivalry often goes overlooked, but the two teams have consistently played in extremely heated games, bringing the tensions between the two franchises even higher. While Carolina has had their fair share of victory, the Falcons hold a dominating 32-19 overall series record.