NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 14 Game Recap: Atlanta Falcons 29, Carolina Panthers 21

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Atlanta Falcons linebacker Mykal Walker (3) returns an interception thrown by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (not pictured) for a touchdown during the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Despite trailing by seven points early, the Atlanta Falcons were unfazed and outscored the Carolina Panthers 29-7 to catapult themselves to a 29-21 road win in Week 14. 

The Falcons' defense recorded three takeaways and returned one for a touchdown.

Atlanta improves to 6-7 to keep its playoff hopes alive, while the Panthers fall to 5-8 and own the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL.


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Atlanta Falcons

Quarterback

Matt Ryan didn’t make many flashy throws but conducted a clean passing attack to finish with 190 yards and a touchdown on 29 dropbacks. The veteran was particularly effective off play action, where he threw for 72 yards and a touchdown while averaging over 10 yards per attempt. 

Ryan finished with a 95.5 passer rating and a 63.4 passing grade, pending final review.

Matt Ryan by Dropback

Dropbacks Completion % YPA Passer Rating
Play action 7 71.4% 10.3 144.0
Non-Play Action 22 63.6% 5.4 77.5
Running Back

Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis split carries throughout the game, but neither back averaged more than four yards per attempt. Patterson carried the ball for 58 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts, with over 70% of his yards coming after contact. 

As for Davis, he was similarly effective on the ground and through the air, managing 86 scrimmage yards on 16 total touches.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Russell Gage and Kyle Pitts were the only true route-runners to catch multiple passes for the Falcons. Gage and Pitts were each targeted six times, and both hauled in at least four receptions for over 60 yards. They combined for the only two explosive receptions in the game, with Pitts pulling down the team's lone contested catch.

Hayden Hurst caught just one pass, but it was a touchdown.

Player Routes Run Receptions Yards YPR YPRR
Russell Gage 25 4 64 16.0 2.56
Kyle Pitts 23 5 61 12.2 2.65
Tajae Sharpe 25 1 7 7.0 0.28
Hayden Hurst 15 1 3 3.0 0.20
Offensive Line

Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary struggled on the right side all day and combined to allow seven of the unit’s 10 pressures in the game. They were beaten three additional times, and both graded below 40.0 in pass protection on first review.

Defensive Line

The Falcons pass rush was nearly nonexistent, with the unit combining for five pressures in the win. Dante Fowler Jr. made the most of his lone pressure in the game by turning it into a fourth-down sack on Newton. Only one pass-rusher won over 10% of their pass-rush reps.

The defensive line did combine for nine defensive stops and four tackles for loss or no gain in the run game.

Linebackers

Foyesade Oluokun and Deion Jones didn’t have the most impressive games. Each missed two tackles, and they combined for just three defensive stops. Oluokun also allowed four receptions for 41 yards and three first downs in coverage.

Meanwhile, Mykal Walker played just five defensive snaps but made the game-changing play, intercepting Cam Newton and returning it for a touchdown.

Secondary

A.J. Terrell continues to impress in his breakout season. The second-year corner allowed two receptions on six targets while also forcing two incompletions and intercepting a pass. He did give up a late, fourth-quarter touchdown to bring his initial coverage grade down to 80.0, but he still enjoyed an impressive day in the Falcons' secondary.

Player Tgts Yds INT + FINC Passer Rating Allowed
A.J. Terrell 6 16 3 42.4
Fabian Moreau 5 16 0 48.8
Duron Harmon 4 25 0 69.8
Jaylinn Hawkins 6 62 0 100.7
Darren Hall 5 64 0 118.8

Carolina Panthers

Quarterback

Carolina shuffled back and forth between its two quarterbacks throughout the game, and both led the offense to scoring drives and turnovers. Cam Newton completed 15-of-23 passes for 178 yards and an interception en route to a 62.4 passing grade on first review. 

Newton still ran the ball efficiently, rushing 10 times for 47 yards and a touchdown for the fourth consecutive game. He was also responsible for a muffed exchange on a handoff that later resulted in a Falcons touchdown.

Backup P.J. Walker replaced Newton twice in the game with varying results. Walker was intercepted in the second quarter but also threw a touchdown late to keep Carolina in striking distance.

Dropbacks Completion % YPA Passer Rating TWP%
Cam Newton 25 65.2% 7.7 70.6 4.0%
P.J. Walker 12 50% 6.3 62.8 8.3%
Running Back

Without Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers struggled to run the ball. Chuba Hubbard finished with 33 yards and two first-down runs on 10 attempts, but outside of his 17-yard rushing touchdown, he averaged under two yards per carry. Hubbard’s rushing touchdown was the only explosive carry between the Panthers' running backs in the game.

Ameer Abdullah spelled Hubbard and ran for 16 yards on four attempts while also catching two passes for 17 yards and a first down.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson kept the offense moving through the air. Each went for 84 receiving yards while combining for seven first-down receptions and four explosive pass plays in the game. Anderson scored his third receiving touchdown of the season, while Moore finished with a team-high 2.71 yards per route run.

Offensive Line

The Panthers rearranged their offensive line, but the results were much the same. Three offensive linemen allowed multiple pressures in the game. Rookie Brady Christensen started at right guard and gave up a team-high three pressures on 37 pass-blocking snaps.

Taylor Moton was the only Panthers lineman to not concede a pressure in the game, and he finished with an 84.3 pass-blocking grade on first review.

Player Pass-Blocking Snaps Pressures Beaten by Defender
Dennis Daley 37 2 0
Brady Christensen 37 3 1
Pat Elflein 37 1 2
Taylor Moton 37 0 0
Cam Erving 37 2 0
Defensive Line

The Panthers' pass rush was largely unproductive, with seven of its 15 pressures being registered as cleanup or unblocked. Four separate pass-rushers hit Ryan but were unable to sack him in the game.

Derrick Brown dominated on the inside and earned a pending 73.3 defensive grade for generating a team-high four pressures, a 19.1% win-rate, three defensive stops and three tackles for loss or no gain.

Linebackers

Shaq Thompson and Jermaine Carter provided big stops on defense, with the duo combining for 20 tackles and 11 defensive stops. However, both linebackers allowed two first downs on three receptions for over 25 yards each in coverage. Thompson finished with the higher defensive grade of the two (63.9) on first review.

Secondary

C.J. Henderson and Myles Hartsfield were picked on early and often in the game. Henderson conceded three receptions for 58 yards and two first downs, while Hartsfield gave up 32 yards and a touchdown.

Outside of these two, the rest of the Panthers' secondary held up well and allowed only 25 yards on five receptions.

Player Tgts Yds Passer Rating Allowed 15+ Yd Rec.
Stephon Gilmore 2 -2 56.3 0
Myles Hartsfield 4 32 137.5 1
Jeremy Chinn 2 9 85.4 0
A.J. Bouye 2 4 56.3 0
C.J. Henderson 4 58 116.7 1
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