Halftime notes: Falcons vs. Panthers

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
2:35
PM ET
ATLANTA -- Here are a few first-half observations from the Atlanta Falcons-Carolina Panthers matchup Sunday at the Georgia Dome:

*The Falcons made it a point to get retiring tight end Tony Gonzalez involved early. Gonzalez caught the first pass of the game to extend his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 211. Gonzalez also had a 23-yard reception on the first drive as quarterback Matt Ryan went 7-for-7 for 62 yards. The drive ended with Ryan's 9-yard touchdown pass to Jason Snelling.

*Rookie cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford have a very bright future. Alford chased down Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams after Williams picked up 59 yards and caused Williams to fumble. Trufant came up with the fumble recovery at the Atlanta 4-yard line, which kept the Panthers from grabbing the momentum. Trufant has been solid all season, but Alford is beginning to hit stride after surpassing Asante Samuel on the depth chart.

*Another game, another injury along the offensive line. This time, new starting right tackle Ryan Schraeder suffered a left ankle injury that kept him sidelined for some plays. Schraeder appeared to walk off the injury, but he was replaced immediately by Jeremy Trueblood.

*Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is dialing up some nice pressure. He sent an all-out blitz on one play that forced a bad throw by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Nolan sent linebacker Paul Worrilow on one play and Worrilow nearly came up with a sack-fumble. Let's see if the Falcons continue the pressure in the second half.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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