The Atlanta Falcons entered Thursday night with a 1-6 record thanks to losing three games they led in the fourth quarter, including Sunday’s last-play, one-point setback against the Detroit Lions.
The Falcons had another fourth-quarter lead on Thursday night -- with the Carolina Panthers' offense on the move. But Atlanta cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson intercepted Carolina QB Teddy Bridgewater at the Falcons 9-yard line with 57 seconds to play to secure a 25-17 victory.
Atlanta already had lost to Carolina 23-16 on Oct. 11. But Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones missed that game with a hamstring injury.
On Thursday night, Jones caught seven passes for 137 yards. Jones' 58th NFL regular-season game with 100 receiving yards was his fifth against the Panthers and his fifth in nine Thursday night appearances.
Jones recorded his 35th game with at least 125 receiving yards, which moved him into a tie with Randy Moss for the second-most 125-plus games in NFL history. The only player with more is Jerry Rice with 49.
Jones' second 137-yard game in three weeks moved his career total to 12,709 receiving yards. Only one player has had more receiving yards than Jones in his first 10 NFL seasons as the former Foley High School and Alabama standout passed Torry Holt’s 10-year total of 12,660 yards on Thursday night. Jones has eight games left in his 10th season to accumulate the 467 yards needed to overtake Rice, who had 13,275 receiving yards in his first 10 NFL seasons.
Eight other players from Alabama high schools and colleges were at the Atlanta-Carolina game:
· Derrick Brown (Auburn) started at defensive tackle. The rookie made four tackles.
· James Carpenter (Alabama) started at left guard for the Falcons.
· Falcons defensive lineman Marlon Davidson (Greenville, Auburn) was designated as a game-day inactive Davidson rejoined the Atlanta active roster on Monday after 13 days on reserve/COVID-19.
· Falcons long snapper Josh Harris (Auburn) handled the snaps for four field goals, two extra points and one punt.
· Panthers guard Mike Horton (Auburn) was designated as a game-day inactive. Carolina called up Horton from its practice squad on Thursday as a COVID-19 replacement, then decided not to make the rookie one of the 48 players eligible to participate in the game. If Horton had played, it would have been his first NFL appearance.
· Calvin Ridley (Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Falcons. Ridley had three receptions for 42 yards when he left the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Ridley did not return to the game after limping to the locker room. In his postgame comments, Atlanta interim coach Raheem Morris had no update on Ridley’s condition.
· Panthers offensive tackle Trent Scott (Lee-Huntsville) played but did not record any stats.
· Falcons running back Ito Smith (McGill-Toolen) was designated as a game-day inactive.
Atlanta hosts the Denver Broncos on Nov. 8. After falling to 3-5, Carolina visits the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 8.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.