Rough day for Young as Panthers fall 24-10 at Falcons

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Sunday, September 10, 2023
The Panthers take the field in Atlanta
The Panthers take the field in Atlanta to face the division rival Falcons.

ATLANTA (WTVD) -- The Atlanta Falcons scored 10 points off Bryce Young interceptions and got a big play late to pull away from the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in the season opener for the NFC South rivals on Sunday.

The loss spoiled the debuts of Young, the QB taken No. 1 overall and new head coach Frank Reich.

Bijan Robinson outshined Young in their NFL debuts as highly touted rookies.

Young was intercepted twice by Jessie Bates in a rough start for the former Alabama star who is being counted on to lead a resurgence in Carolina.

Robinson, selected at No. 8 by the Falcons in defiance of those who say running backs shouldn't go that high, showed his versatility by taking a swing pass for an 11-yard touchdown.

He also broke off a 21-yard dash that set up Atlanta's go-ahead TD: Tyler Allgeier's 3-yard run in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

Allgeier added a clinching touchdown on another 3-yard run with just under five minutes remaining.

It was a rough day for both offenses, each of them led by a young quarterback with plenty to prove.

Desmond Ridder, who started the final four games of his rookie season to set up his first full year at the helm in Atlanta, couldn't get much of anything going in the deep passing game. He was sacked four times and finished 15 of 18 for just 116 yards.

It was an even tougher day for Young, whose Heisman Trophy-winning career at Alabama led the Panthers to trade up for the No. 1 pick and select him as the first of three quarterbacks who went in the first four spots of the draft.

One of the few highlights came in the second quarter when he hooked up with Hayden Hurst for his first career touchdown on a 4-yard scoring play to leave the game knotted 7-7 at halftime.


But Young looked like a rookie on two nearly identical throws across the middle, both times failing to pick up Bates lurking in the vicinity. The rookie also had a fumbled exchange, took a delay of game penalty and was sacked twice.

He finished 20 of 38 for 146 yards and failed to become the first quarterback since David Carr in 2002 to win his starting debut after being selected at the top of the draft. The last 15 quarterbacks with that honor are now 0-14-1 in their first starts.

Robinson's first NFL TD was one to remember, set up by Bates' first interception that gave Atlanta the ball at the Panthers 17.

Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder is sacked by Panthers defensive tackle Derrick Brown.
Brynn Anderson

Taking a short pass from Ridder, the rookie faked out linebacker Frankie Luvu, smashed through two would-be tacklers and burst into the end zone.

After sitting out a couple of practices, casting doubt on whether he would play without a new contract, Carolina outside linebacker Brian Burns made a strong pitch for a long-term deal.

The two-time Pro Bowler seemed to spend about as much time in the Falcons backfield as Ridder. Burns had 1 1/2 sacks, another hit on the quarterback, and planted Robinson for a big loss.


Panthers: CB Jaycee Horn went out in the first half with a hamstring injury and did not return. ... WR D.J. Chark Jr. (hamstring) was ruled out before the game.

Falcons: Cordarrelle Patterson, set to play the new "Joker" position in the Falcons' offense, didn't dress because of a thigh injury. ... CB Jeff Okudah (foot) also missed the opener.


Panthers: Take on another NFC South rival when the New Orleans Saints visit Charlotte on Sept. 18 for Carolina's home opener on Monday night football.

Falcons: Play their second straight home game to begin the season when the Green Bay Packers visit Atlanta next Sunday.


Live game update recap


4:07 p.m.: Panthers can't convert on fourth down and the Falcons take a knee. Final 24-10 Falcons.

3:55 p.m.: Last gasp for Carolina. A couple of nice passes by Young to Sanders and Hurst to get to midfield. A short run by Chubba Hubbard gets the first down but the Panthers can't get another play off before the 2-minute warning.

3:52 p.m.: The Panthers get a stop on 3rd-and-6 but are out of time outs as the Falcons prepare to punt.

3:50 p.m.: The Panthers can't muster any offense. Another punt and the Falcons take over. Panthers are forced to use time outs to stop the clock with 3:36 left.

3:42 p.m.: Allgeier runs it in again and now the Falcons have opened a 24-10 lead with just 4:43 left. It's going to take a miracle of sorts for the Panthers.

3:40 p.m.: Falcons on the move. Time is now the enemy of the Panthers. Under 5 minutes left and the Falcons have driven into Panthers' territory.

Huge completion from Ridder to Kyle Pitts to the Panthers' 7 and it's 1st-and goal. That could be the dagger.

3:25 p.m.: The Panthers can't respond. Young is under heavy pressure on third down and 10 at his own 29 and is sacked. Carolina forced to punt. The Falcons take over at their 35 with 10:57 left in the game.

3:16 p.m.: After further review, the play stands and the Falcons take a 17-10 lead.

3:15 p.m.: Falcons think they scored on a Tyler Allgeier run but the play is under review. It appears he may have stepped out before the ball touched the corner pylon.


3:09 p.m.: Bijan Robinson bursts through the Panthers' defense for a 21-yard run to the Panthers' 4-yeard line. The third quarter ends with Atlanta looking at 1st-and-goal.

3:05 p.m.: The call is reversed. It is ruled a fumble by Miles Sanders and the Falcons take over near midfield.

3:03 p.m.: First challenge flag of the game. Falcons think the Panthers fumbled. The call on the field was the runner was down before the ball came out. The play is under review.

2:56 p.m.: After Young throws his second pick of the game, the Falcons capitalize and kick a field goal to tie it at 10.

4:52 left in the third quarter.

2:35 p.m.: The second half is underway and the Panthers are putting together a drive. The Panthers have to settle for a 50-yard field goal and lead for the first time, 10-7.


It's halftime and we're tied at 7.

2:18 p.m.: Panthers' D comes up big with a sack of Ridder at the Atlanta 26 to bring a hard-fought half to an end.

2:12 p.m.: Panthers get the ball back with less than 2 minutes left but at their own 17.

On third down and 10, Young fires incomplete over the middle, and the Panthers will punt. Still 1:34 on the clock, plenty of time for Atlanta. Poor possession for Carolina.

2 p.m.: The Panther finally put together a great drive and it culminates in Young's first career touchdown pass. The rookie hits Hayden Hurst for a 4-yard scoring strike. The PAT ties the game at 7 with 5:09 left in the half.

1:40 p.m. Three and out. Young with a nice flip to Hubbard on third down but he's three yards short of the sticks. Panthers punt from their own 32.

1:35 p.m.: Third possession for Carolina. Let's see how Young and the offense respond.

1:30 p.m.: The Falcons capitalize on Young's mistake. First-round draft pick Bijan Robinson runs it after a short completion from Ridder and Atlanta leads 7-0. Officially an 11-yard TD pass.


1:25 p.m.: After Brian Burns blows up the Falcons' possession, the Panthers start their second possession with 2:47 left in the first quarter.

An ugly series for the Panthers, as two penalties back them up near their own goal line, and then Young throws his first pro interception. Welcome to the pros.

1:15 p.m.: After a good opening drive, the Panthers come away empty after failing to convert a 4th-and short in the red zone. Falcons take over on downs.

1:07 p.m.: Bryce Young's first official snap as a Panther is a handoff to Miles Sanders for a 4-yard gain. Young's first pass is complete for a first down.

1:05 p.m. Good start for the Panthers' defense. Pressure forces a Desmond Ridder fumble but the Falcons recover. and are forced to punt.

1:03 p.m.: The Panthers kick off and the game is underway!

The Associated Press contributed