A game that could have served as a statement to the rest of the NFC South turned out to be the same old story.
On fourth-and-7 from the Carolina 39 in the fourth quarter, the man who may be the best receiver in the National Football League got open by 10 yards in the Panthers end zone. He had a 4-yard touchdown on a pitchout as part of a day in which he had 66 yards rushing and 28 more receiving, including several plays he made for key first downs.
Instead, Adams beautifully undercut a throw to the tight end and then showed some good speed to run the ball all the way back to the Atlanta 31, setting up a go-ahead touchdown.
A field goal on their first possession and a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Mohamed Sanu got the Falcons up by 10 in the first quarter. After a nice Cam Newton-to-Devin Funchess pass, and two 15-yard penalties, Carolina got into the red zone and scored.
Carolina successfully executed the same option pitch the team had previously fumbled against Chicago to score its first touchdown of the game.
Possibly the most impactful of those series came near the end of the second quarter. The perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver dropped a wide-open 39-yard touchdown with 8:12 left that would have cut Carolina's lead to three. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were held to a combined 51 yards on 16 carries.
Newton's 5-yard scramble gave the Panthers the lead with 23 seconds to play. He ran once for 14 yards.
Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart fumbled twice in Atlanta territory in the first quarter, the first one recovered by safety Keanu Neal and the second one caused by Neal.
Palardy also pinned the Falcons within the 20-yard line after Atlanta scored to bring the game within three points.
Carolina finally found its legs late in the second quarter.