Falcons’ Ryan: Win could be ‘start of something’


This time the Atlanta Falcons held on in the fourth quarter. Though it wasn’t without some drama.

The Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers 25-17 Thursday night after taking an eight-point lead and sealing the victory with an interception by cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson at the Atlanta 9-yard line with less than a minute to play.

It was just the second time in five games this season that the Falcons won a game in which they entered the fourth quarter with a lead. They had been 1-3 in that situation entering Thursday night’s game, including last week’s loss to Detroit on the game’s final play.

The victory over the Panthers was a much-needed boost for a Falcons team that desperately needed something good to happen. It sets the table for a potential run over the next several weeks. They have a winnable game against Denver (2-4) next week and after their bye play New Orleans (4-2) twice in a three-week span, giving them a chance to try and make up some ground in the NFC South.

It’s certainly not out of the question: The Falcons followed a 1-7 start last season with a 6-1 finish that included victories in the final four games.

Thursday’s victory may be able to help purge the memories of the fourth-quarter failures from earlier in the season and especially last week’s loss to Detroit. The Falcons led the Lions 14-13 in the fourth quarter but Todd Gurley’s touchdown run left the Lions with too much time and Matthew Stafford’s TD pass to T.J. Hockenson gave the Lions a 23-22 victory. That was just the latest painful fourth-quarter flop. The Falcons blew a five-point lead in Week 2 in a 40-39 loss to Dallas and a 16-point lead in Week 3 to Chicago.

Until the victory over the Panthers, the Falcons’ only hold on a fourth-quarter lead was two weeks ago against Minnesota.

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