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Ron Rivera: Panthers run defense 'terrible' vs. Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons were without running back Devonta Freeman on Sunday, facing one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. It didn't matter.

Tevin Coleman dashed around the dome Sunday afternoon on a bevy of stretch runs and pitches to the tune of 107 rushing yards. Rookie Ito Smith chipped in with 46 yards on just nine carries (5.1 average) including two 13-plus yard jaunts.

Coleman's 107 yards snapped the Panthers' 21-game streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher, the longest active streak in the NFL. Carolina entered the game allowing 88.4 rush YPG since 2017, fourth-lowest in the league, per NFL Research. In Week 2, the Panthers gave up 170 rushing yards, most since Week 13 of 2016 versus Seattle.

"Terrible," coach Ron Rivera said of his team's run defense, via the Charlotte Observer.

"We made too many mistakes," he added. "We didn't give ourselves a chance to win. We've got to be disciplined, and we've got to be more disciplined than that.

"We can't do those things. We have to go back and we have to correct."

To make matters worse for the Panthers, they allowed Atlanta's famously struggling red-zone offense to go off Sunday. The Falcons went 4-for-4 on red zone touchdowns, a feat which they did not match all last season.

It wasn't just running backs Carolina couldn't corral. The Panthers allowed Matt Ryan -- not exactly known as the swiftest quarterback -- to rush for two scores, including an 8-yard scramble midway through the fourth quarter.

Ryan became the first player in Falcons history with two passing TDs and two rushing TDs in the same game, per Elias Sports. Over the last six seasons, the only other player in the NFL with two pass TDs and two rush TDs in the same game is Cam Newton (did it twice during that span).

"I'm a defensive head coach, and to have that happen, I won't stand for that. I will get that corrected," Rivera said of his run D. "Again, it's early in the season, we're going to make some mistakes. We've got to get those things corrected if we expect to win football games."

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