By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta’s Younghoe Koo booted a 41-yard field goal in overtime after the Carolina Panthers missed a pair of kicks that could’ve won it, giving the Falcons an improbable 37-34 victory Sunday that maintained their hold on first place in the NFC South.
The teams combined for three touchdowns in the final 3:06 of regulation before a silly penalty by the Panthers’ D.J. Moore opened the door for the Falcons (4-4) to pull it out.
With the Falcons up 34-28, Carolina (2-6) appeared to have won the game in stunning fashion when Moore hauled in a 62-yard touchdown heave from P.J. Walker with 12 seconds remaining.
But Moore ripped off his helmet during a raucous celebration in the end zone, resulting in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That pushed back the extra point to a 48-yard attempt, and Eddy Piñeiro pulled it left of the upright.
Carolina (2-6) had another chance to win in OT after C.J. Henderson returned an interception 54 yards to the Falcons 20. But Piñeiro botched another kick, yanking a wobbler left of the upright again from 32 yards out — shorter than a regular extra point.
The Panthers wouldn’t get another shot. Marcus Mariota, who threw three touchdown passes, ripped off a 30-yard run for the Falcons that set up Koo’s game-winner with 1:55 left in the extra period.
The Panthers had a chance to create a four-team logjam in the NFC South. Instead, the Falcons have the lead all to themselves with a .500 record.
Panthers: S Juston Burris went out with a concussion. … CB Donte Jackson sustained an ankle injury late in the game.
Falcons: Already depleted in the secondary, Atlanta got a scare when cornerback Cornell Armstrong wobbled off the field midway through the third quarter. But he missed only a couple of plays before returning.
Panthers: Hit the road again next Sunday to face the Cincinnati Bengals.
Falcons: Host the San Diego Chargers next Sunday.
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