Panthers fall in overtime heartthrobs against Falcons

ATLANTA – There’s always a lot of crazy stuff going on when the Panthers and Falcons get together.

Sunday might have been the topper.

The Panthers fell to the Falcons 37-34 in overtime in one of the strangest ways, with each team throwing late in what appeared to be game-changing haymakers.

The Panthers came back to give DJ Moore a game-winning 62-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left, but Moore was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for taking off his helmet during the entirely understandable celebration, and with the safe extra point 15 yards back , Eddy Piñeiro missed the extra point to send him into overtime with 34 points.

In a season they’ve already changed coaches and traded their best offensive player for draft picks, PJ Walker’s hero throw (a guy who would have been cut after training camp had it not been for two more quarterback injuries) was almost something to come your way expected.

Because nothing about this season was as expected.

It was the kind of oddity you expect when these two teams come together and the fact that it couldn’t be decided in the normal 60 minutes of football was appropriate.

And the extra time didn’t help make this more normal.

Panthers cornerback CJ Henderson (who was on the other end in some big games) appeared to thwart the game with an overtime interception, but Piñeiro missed a 32-yard field goal that would have ended it 5:54 in overtime .

From there, the Falcons were able to position themselves for a 41-yard field goal from Younghoe Koo with 1:55 left, a disappointing end to the day.

The Panthers had a chance to grab a chunk of first place in the division, but even at 2-6 they must feel like they’ve taken a step in a direction. It felt almost forward as good as it gets when you’re 2-6.

— Safety Juston Burris left the game in the second half and didn’t return with a concussion.

That prompted the Panthers to adjust staff and try to patch up a defense still without security from Jeremy Chinn (who can return as early as next week).

Last year, the Panthers held Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts for 74 yards on a total of seven catches, but he had five for 80 and a touchdown on Sunday.

Pitts is hardcover anyway, but being tight in the middle makes it all the more difficult.

— The Panthers continued to show that they are capable of making big plays on defense.

Cornerback Donte Jackson started early by knocking out Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota on play two (while marking Byrd).

The Panthers also had back-to-back sacks in the first half, with Derrick Brown and Yetur Gross-Matos combining for one, followed by Frankie Luvu, who dropped Mariota in the next game.

– Jackson spent a few minutes in the blue medical tent in the first half, as he has done in recent weeks. Then he came out and continued playing on his sore ankle like he had been doing for the past few weeks. He was also on the field late in the fourth before finally being carted into the dressing room with an ankle injury.

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