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Young throws 2 interceptions in debut, Panthers fall to Falcons in season opener

The Panthers opened the regular season with a loss to the Atlanta Falcons on the road.

ATLANTA — No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Young had a shaky but promising start to the 2023 season as the Carolina Panthers fell 24-10 to their divisional rival Atlanta Falcons.

Young threw two interceptions, while tossing one touchdown, as the Falcons did just enough to secure the win with a pair of Tyle Allgeir rushing touchdowns.

Things started off decent for Young and the revamped Panthers' offense. Young led the team down to the Falcons' 11-yard line but Chuba Hubbard was unable to convert a fourth-and-one, giving the ball back to the Falcons.

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Atlanta got on the scoreboard first with an 11-yard Bijan Robinson touchdown reception from Desmond Ridder on the first play of the second quarter. The drive started in the red zone for the Falcons after Young threw an interception on just his fifth NFL pass on the preceding possession.

Carolina evened the score later in the quarter with a short Young touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst. Panthers fans hope it's the first of many touchdown tosses for the 2023 NFL Draft's No. 1 overall pick.

The Panthers took their first lead of 2023 on the opening drive of the second half. Young guided the team downfield with his arm and his legs en route to a 43-yard Eddy Piñeiro field goal to give Carolina a 10-7 advantage.

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After the Panthers forced a three-and-out on their next drive, the team was poised to add to their lead until Young had another pass intercepted. 

Carolina's defense held Atlanta to just a field goal, tying the game at 10 midway through the third quarter.

The Panthers made it into Atlanta territory on the ensuing drive but Miles Sanders fumbled after a 10-yard carry. Sanders was initially ruled down but a Falcons' challenge overturned the call and gave the Panthers their third turnover of the game.

Atlanta responded with an effective touchdown drive capped off by an Algeir rushing score that gave them a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Carolina only managed punts the rest of the way as the Falcons added another Algeir score on the ground to seal the game.

Young completed 20 of 38 passes for 146 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in his NFL debut. He also ran for 17 yards on three carries. Sanders led the Panthers on the ground with 72 yards.

Ridder was efficient but not electric, completing 15 of 18 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Allgeir led the team with 75 yards rushing. 

Despite the lopsided score, Carolina's defense did put up a good fight against the paltry Atlanta offense. A negative three turnover differential and some deep starting field positions kept the Panthers' defense from keeping the final score closer.

Elsewhere in the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints squeezed ahead of the Tennessee Titans 16-15 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers upset the Minnesota Vikings 20-17 behind ex-Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield. Those results leave the Panthers alone in last with a 0-1 record to kickoff the season. 

The Panthers will next play the New Orleans Saints in their home opener on Monday, Sept. 18.

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