ATLANTA — The Carolina Panthers have managed just fine without versatile offensive star Christian McCaffrey.
The Atlanta Falcons could soon be getting used to life without head coach Dan Quinn.
Teddy Bridgewater threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns, and Juston Burris made a huge interception in the end zone as Carolina held on Sunday for a 23-16 victory over the winless Falcons — perhaps the final blow to Quinn's tenure in its sixth year.
The Falcons dropped to 0-5 for the first time since 1997, turning up the heat even more on their embattled coach.
"Honestly, it's the furthest thing from my mind," Quinn said. "My job is coaching, and my focus is on us to keep playing and play the way we can."
Carolina (3-2) won its third in a row — all since McCaffrey went down with a high ankle sprain. Mike Davis has sure taken advantage of his opportunity, filling in brilliantly for the injured All-Pro.
"The first two weeks, we were just trying to figure out who we are," said Davis, who rushed for 89 yards and hauled in nine catches for another 60 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown. "We just want to be the toughest team you play."
After falling behind 20-7 at halftime, the Falcons drove into position for a tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. On third-and-4 from the Panthers' 5, Matt Ryan badly underthrew a pass to Russell Gage in the back of the end zone, allowing Burris to pick him off with 8:49 remaining. The strong safety figured the Falcons would single him out.
"A safety on a slot receiver. They thought they had a mismatch," Burris said. "The coaches have faith in me to cover a slot receiver, and I wanted to prove them right."
With the Falcons clearly deflated, Carolina drove nearly the length of the field — taking 7:39 off the clock — to set up Joey Slye's third field goal of the game, a 22-yarder with 1:10 remaining.
"For us to do what we did at the end of the game, that goes back to our physicality, our toughness mentally and physically," said Bridgewater, who was 27-of-37 in the eighth 300-yard passing game of his NFL career. "It was huge for us down the stretch."
The Panthers built their lead behind touchdown passes of 57 yards to D.J. Moore and the short toss to Davis with 23 seconds left in the first half, drawing boos that could be heard even from a sparse, socially distanced crowd of 6,656 at 75,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Atlanta, which this season became the first team in NFL history to squander fourth-quarter leads of at least 15 points in consecutive games, tried to turn the script in the second half.
Ryan blamed himself for letting the chance slip away. Playing without top receiver Julio Jones, the veteran quarterback was held to 21-of-37 passing for a season-low 226 yards. Jones couldn't go because of a lingering hamstring injury that has kept him off the field for all but one half in the last three games.
"I know I'd like to play better than I did today," Ryan said. "Late in the game, you've got to find a way to punch it in."
Younghoe Koo kicked three second-half field goals, including a 54-yarder with four seconds remaining that the Falcons took in hopes of recovering an onside kick and getting one last shot at a tying Hail Mary. Carolina's Robby Anderson fell on the high hopper to finish off the Falcons.
The Panthers snapped a five-game losing streak to their NFC South rivals, beating the Falcons for only the second time in their past 10 meetings.
The Falcons did plenty of damage on the ground, rushing for 166 yards with a 6.6-yard average. Todd Gurley led the way with 121 yards on 14 carries, including a 35-yard touchdown that gave Atlanta the game's first points.
Bridgewater has completed 75 of 102 (73.5%) passes for 824 yards with five touchdowns and one interception during Carolina's winning streak. He has also run for a touchdown, and he has been sacked only twice.
During that same span, Davis has rushed for 219 yards on 45 carries with one touchdown, and he has caught 22 passes for 132 yards and two scores.
Not bad for a guy who has played on four teams and was claimed off waivers by the Panthers last season.
"I want it," Davis said. "I love being on this team. I'm not just out there playing for myself. I'm also out there playing for my teammates. I'm out there thinking about my guys and their stories."