Halftime thoughts on Panthers-Falcons

ATLANTA -- Some quick observations as the Atlanta Falcons lead the Carolina Panthers, 17-14, at halftime at the Georgia Dome:

  • The Falcons had their streak of scoring on their first possession in each game this season snapped. Carolina’s defense forced a three and out on Atlanta’s first possession.

  • Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan hasn’t looked quite as sharp as he did in the first three games. Ryan has thrown two touchdowns to Roddy White, including a gorgeous 49-yard score. But Ryan also had a throw picked off at the goal line and Carolina’s done a good job of putting pressure on him.

  • I’m tempted to say Atlanta running back Michael Turner looks like he’s back to the form he showed a couple years ago. But I don’t think that’s really the case. I think Turner’s first-half success has more to do with Carolina’s poor run defense than anything he’s done.

  • Carolina has run the ball well with Cam Newton executing a lot of read options. Newton’s only kept the ball once -- on a 32-yard run -- but DeAngelo Williams has had a couple nice runs. Newton also had two runs late in the first half, but that came on a scramble to get away from pressure and not on a read option.

  • The Panthers benched rookie return man Joe Adams after he had a rough game in his last outing. They’ve been letting Kealoha Pilares handle kickoff returns and Captain Munnerlyn has been taking care of punt returns.

  • Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson, who was quiet in the first three games, had a productive first half. Johnson has produced 1.5 sacks and also batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage.