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Falcons edge Panthers in wild overtime finish

Oct 30, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) is tackled for a loss by Carolina Panthers defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (97) and defensive tackle Derrick Brown (95) during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Younghoe Koo booted a 41-yard field goal with 1:55 left in overtime as the Atlanta Falcons pulled out a wild 37-34 victory against the visiting Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon.

Carolina’s PJ Walker hooked up with diving DJ Moore for a 62-yard touchdown heave with 12 seconds left in regulation, but an unsportsmanlike penalty on Moore contributed to a longer extra-point kick that was off the mark and kept the game tied at 34-34.

Still, the Panthers (2-6) appeared set up to win after CJ Henderson intercepted a pass in overtime. Eddy Pinerio missed a 32-yard field goal.

Given another chance on offense, the Falcons (4-4) drove 55 yards to set up Koo’s winner.

Marcus Mariota’s third touchdown pass of the game went to Damiere Byrd for 47 yards with 2:14 to play as the Falcons appeared in good shape. Byrd, who spent his first three NFL seasons with the Panthers from 2016-18, ran the final 32 yards of the play after making the grab.

The Panthers failed to pick up a first down on their next possession before Koo’s 34-yard field goal for Atlanta with 36 seconds left for a 34-28 edge.

Mariota threw for 253 yards by completing 20 of 28 passes with two interceptions. Linebacker Lorenzo Carter returned an interception for a touchdown for the Falcons.

D’Onta Foreman ran for three touchdowns and a two-point conversion, with his 12-yard run with 3:06 remaining putting Carolina ahead. He gained 118 rushing yards on 26 carries in the team’s second game since the trade of star running back Christian McCaffrey.

The Panthers, whose only previous wins came against NFC South opposition by defeating New Orleans and Tampa Bay, are 1-2 under interim coach Steve Wilks after the firing of Matt Rhule.

Walker completed 19 of 36 passes for 317 yards with an interception for Carolina, which gained 472 yards of total offense through regulation after entering the weekend with an NFL-worst 271.9 per game.

Pineiro made field goals from 37 and 42 yards.

The Falcons held their biggest lead at 21-13 following Mariota’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Allgeier.

Carolina responded with a 10-play drive, with Foreman scoring on fourth-and-goal on a 1-yard run and then tacking on the conversion run.

Atlanta retook the lead on Koo’s 30-yard field goal to cap the ensuing possession.

The game was tight throughout. Mariota connected with tight end Kyle Pitts for a 2-yard touchdown play to put the Falcons on top 7-3.

Foreman’s 2-yard run gave the Panthers a lead with 4:51 left in the first half.

But Carter picked off a screen pass and had only Walker to dodge on the way to the end zone for a 28-yard return with 41 seconds to play in the half.

–Field Level Media