Foreman leads Panthers past rival Falcons in rain, 25-15

Nov 10, 2022, 6:35 AM | Updated: 9:46 pm
Carolina Panthers running back D'Onta Foreman runs for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons duri...

Carolina Panthers running back D'Onta Foreman runs for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

(AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

              Carolina Panthers wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. runs for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)
            
              Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London catches a touchdown pass against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
            
              Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota braces away from Carolina Panthers linebacker Frankie Luvu during the second half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)
            
              Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson is tackled by Carolina Panthers linebacker Frankie Luvu during the second half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)
            
              Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota passes against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)
            
              Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson is tackled by Carolina Panthers linebacker Frankie Luvu during the second half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)
            
              Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota passes under pressure from Carolina Panthers defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos during the second half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)
            
              Carolina Panthers running back D'Onta Foreman runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)
            
              Carolina Panthers running back D'Onta Foreman runs for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — D’Onta Foreman admitted he was tired — at times completely gassed.

But the Carolina Panthers running back said there wasn’t a chance he was going to tap on his helmet and ask to take a breather. He’s waited too long in his injury-plagued career for this opportunity.

“When the game is on the line there is no coming out,” Foreman said.

Foreman carried 31 times for 130 yards and a touchdown, Laviska Shenault added a 41-yard burst to the end zone and the Panthers beat the Atlanta Falcons 25-15 on a rainy Thursday night.

Foreman’s 31 carries were the most by a Carolina running back since Nick Goings’ 36 in 2004. The Panthers (3-7) piled up a season-high 232 yards on the ground, and Eddy Pineiro kicked four field goals after he missed two critical kicks in a 37-34 overtime loss to the Falcons 11 days earlier.

“You have to continue to grind, continue to pound it,” said Foreman, who has three 100-yard running games since Christian McCaffrey was traded to San Francisco. “That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted the ball in my hands.”

The Falcons’ Marcus Mariota finished 19 of 30 for 186 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked five times and intercepted once.

Atlanta fell to 4-6, leaving Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) alone atop the NFC South. The Bucs play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks in Germany.

Carolina improved to 2-3 since coach Matt Rhule was fired and replaced on an interim basis by Steve Wilks. Four days earlier, the Panthers were blown out 42-21 at Cincinnati after falling behind 35-0 at halftime.

“I’m extremely proud of the men in this locker room and how we bounced back,” Wilks said.

Foreman, who ran for 118 yards and three TDs in the last meeting on Oct. 30 in Atlanta, capped off a crucial seven-play, 84-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run off right tackle to give Carolina a 19-9 lead with 1:51 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons cut Carolina’s lead to 22-15 when Mariota found a wide-open KhaDarel Hodge for a 25-yard touchdown with 3:01 left in the game after the Panthers botched a coverage assignment. Younghoe Koo, who had made 71 straight extra points, missed his second PAT of the game to keep the margin at seven points.

The Falcons got one last shot to tie the game, taking over at their own 34 with 2 1/2 minutes to play. But Carolina’s Marquis Haynes sacked Mariota twice and the Falcons turned the ball over on downs at their 15.

“It starts with me,” Mariota said. “I’ve got to do a better job getting us into better plays. When you’re not consistently creating good first- and second-down plays, it’s tough on third down. And then when you’re not converting third downs, you’re not sustaining drives and you’re not scoring points.”

Carolina’s defense, which allowed Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon to run for 153 yards and four touchdowns — and the Bengals to amass 241 rushing yards as a team — on Sunday, held the league’s fourth-best rushing attack to 138 yards.

Atlanta came in averaging 162.9 yards on the ground.

“It wasn’t pretty. They won both lines of scrimmage,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said.

The Panthers often stacked the box and sold out against the run, daring Mariota to beat them.

Shenault gave Carolina a 10-0 lead in the second quarter when he caught a swing pass from P.J. Walker after circling the backfield in motion and raced down the left sideline past five Falcons defenders — two of whom collided and took each other out of the play. The touchdown was ruled a rush because Walker’s toss was not a forward pass.

PINIERO’S REVENGE

Pineiro, who missed a winning extra point at the end of regulation and a field goal in overtime in the previous meeting with the Falcons, connected on field goals of 46, 49, 40 and 37 yards for Carolina on a wet field. He missed one extra point.

“I thought Eddy did a great job in practice bouncing back,” Wilks said. “We created different (game) scenarios for him in those situations. It says a lot about him as a person. You have to hit that reset button and understand that it happens some times. The way he came back tonight, I’m just so proud of him.”

INJURIES

Panthers: CB Donte Jackson injured an Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter and did not return. … FB Gio Ricci suffered a neck injury in the second half and also did not return.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Host Chicago on Nov. 20.

Panthers: At Baltimore on Nov. 20.

___

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Foreman leads Panthers past rival Falcons in rain, 25-15