The Carolina Panthers finished their first game of their 2023 campaign with a 24-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Led by the 72 yards from former Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders, the Panthers gained a total of 154 rushing yards in the matchup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Defensive lineman Derrick Brown and linebacker Brian Burns combined for 2.5 sacks and three tackles for loss.

Turnovers played their role in Carolina's loss to the Falcons. Atlanta scored 17 of its 24 points off Panthers' turnovers, according to Carolina Panthers Staff Writer Augusta Stone. Falcons safety Jesse Bates forced a fumble from Sanders late in the third quarter. Bates would end the night with two interceptions, hauling down his second pick of the day off a pass up the middle from Panthers quarterback Bryce Young.

“Disappointing that we lost,” Panthers head coach Frank Reich said, via Stone. “I mean, there are multiple reasons for that. Obviously, we've got to protect the football, but I would be careful to say much more than that.

“Again, I've got to see the film. There are multiple things that go into turnovers. It's not always what it appears on the surface. So you've got to dig into the tape a little bit more.”

Bryce Young experienced his fair share of growing pains during his rookie debut against the Falcons.

The No. 1 selection in the 2023 NFL Draft ended the game with 146 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The former
Alabama quarterback completed 20 of his 38 pass attempts. Atlanta's defense finished with two sacks and seven quarterback hits.

“Not good. Not enough to win,” Young said, via FOX Sports NFC South reporter Greg Auman. “I made crucial turnovers, which again, I can't do, especially where they happen.

“We didn't score enough to win and that falls on me. That falls on my shoulders. I need to improve. I need to be better. I'm going to learn from it and continue throughout the week to grow and be better than that. My performance wasn't there so I have to do a lot better.”

Sanders and tight end Hayden Hurst led the team in receiving yards with 26 and 41, respectively. Bryce Young still completed quick passes as the game went on, including in the drive that led to his first NFL touchdown pass. He capped it off with a throw to Hurst with 5:09 remaining in the second quarter. Receivers Terrace Marshall Jr., Jonathan Mingo, Laviska Shenault Jr. and Adam Thielen combined for 68 receiving yards.

Reich still showed confidence in Young during his postgame press conference.

“Bryce is the last person I'm worried about and how he'll handle this,” Reich said, via Sports Illustrated Publisher Schuyler Callihan. “He's got the maturity of someone way beyond his years. He's a team-first person. He'll be hard on himself and he should be.

“Every one of us coaches, and players should be hard on ourselves. In the next 24 hours, it should not taste good and we need to eat every bit of it. We got to feel the disappointment and the hurt. But not just feel it but we've got to figure out how to get better and I believe we'll do that as a team.”

Bryce Young and the Panthers' offense must learn from their performance against the Falcons before they move on to a game against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 18.

Final Grade: C-