0

Struggling Atlanta looking for first road TD

FLOWERY BRANCH - Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan has no quick fix for Atlanta's offensive struggles on the road.

Compared to a 24-9 loss by the same score at Tampa Bay two weeks ago, the Falcons fared no worse with Carolina, but they also showed no marginal improvement.

Atlanta, which has lost five straight and nine of its last 10 away from the Georgia Dome, is still seeking its first touchdown on the road this year.

'You obviously deal with some noise issues on the offensive side of the ball,' Ryan said Monday. 'But we just really need to execute better when we get on the road.'

Michael Turner, the NFL's leading rusher, averaged 3.1 yards on 18 carries. Of Ryan's 21 completions, the offense advanced only 3.5 yards per pass.

Atlanta converted only two of 13 third-down chances, three of which came on dropped passes.

Coach Mike Smith was particularly bothered by a pair of penalties that contributed to the offense's failure to score a road touchdown this year.

Trailing 7-0 when Atlanta began its second possession of the first quarter, Smith liked how Ryan kept the Panthers guessing with a no-huddle attack that helped the Falcons advance to the Carolina 13.

Unfortunately, on the 10th snap of the drive, a false start penalty on tight end Justin Peelle pushed Atlanta back to the 18. The next two plays advanced the ball just three yards, and the Falcons had to settle for Jason Elam's 33-yard field goal.