Wilks' Panthers grind past Falcons in NFC South showdown

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The Atlanta Falcons missed the chance to move into top spot in the NFC South as interim Carolina Panthers head coach Steve Wilks guided his side to a 25-15 victory on Thursday.

Panthers running back D'Onta Foreman starred with 31 carries for 130 yards in rainy conditions, including a third-quarter touchdown to complete a seven-play 84-yard drive at Bank of America Stadium.

The Falcons, who slipped to 4-6, were well beaten throughout, yet got within one score with 2:56 remaining in the fourth quarter when QB Marcus Mariota found a wide open KhaDarel Hodge to make it 22-15. Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo, who had made 71 consecutive extra points coming into the game, inexplicably missed the conversion, having spurned one earlier too.

Marquin Haynes sacked Mariota for the second time to end Atlanta's final drive, with Eddy Pineiro's 37-yard field goal padding out the margin.

Mariota made numerous unusual decisions throughout and was sacked five times. He completed 19 of 30 pass attempts for 186 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, linking up with rookie Drake London for a third-quarter TD after trailing 13-3 at half-time.

Laviska Shenault Jr scored the only first-half touchdown, exploding down the sideline on a 41-yard run after P.J. Walker's swing pass.

Walker, who was preferred to Baker Mayfield, completed 10 of 16 passes for 108 yards, highlighted by a 43-yarder to Terrace Marshall Jr, leading to Foreman's touchdown run in the third.

The win improved the Panthers to 3-7, with Wilks having presided over two wins from five games in interim charge.