Atlanta just ground out one of those long marches it has made a living on this season, taking 18 plays and 8:38 off the clock before scoring on a 39-yard field goal from Matt Bryant to make it 17-0 with 2:34 left in the second quarter.
The Panthers did stop the Falcons, finally, thanks to Jon Beason's deflection of a pass and sure tackle on successive plays. But Atlanta cashed in anyway on Bryant's field goal, making it a three-possession game for the Panthers.
Carolina got the ball back, couldn't move it (of course) and punted. Matt Ryan made a rare bad throw on the last play of the first half, which was intercepted by Richard Marshall, and the Falcons went into the half ahead 17-0.
A couple of halftime stats for you: the Panthers have two first downs so far (Atlanta has 13). Quarterback Jimmy Clausen is 3-for-5 for 14 yards and has been sacked four times for minus-19, so the Panthers actually have lost five yards passing so far.
Atlanta has outgained Carolina, 202-33, at halftime.
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