NFL Week 8 Game Recap: Carolina Panthers 19, Atlanta Falcons 13 | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF

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NFL Week 8 Game Recap: Carolina Panthers 19, Atlanta Falcons 13

Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Carolina Panthers cornerback Stephon Gilmore (9) celebrates after an interception with teammates against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Running back Chuba Hubbard and the Carolina Panthers took down quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in a Week 8 NFC South showdown, 19-13.

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Carolina Panthers

Quarterback

Sam Darnold was benched last week, and he left this game with an injury in the fourth quarter after a hard hit. He would not return. The former New York Jet didn’t do anything to write home about while he was in, completing a measly 13-of-24 passes for 129 yards.

However, he did not have a turnover-worthy throw and made three big-time throws for a 12.5% big-time throw percentage. He also added eight carries, including four scrambles. Darnold tallied 66 rushing yards, three explosive runs and two forced missed tackles on the ground.

PJ Walker entered in relief of Darnold in the fourth quarter. He wasn’t asked to do anything of note, attempting just one pass, which fell incomplete.

Running Backs

Chuba Hubbard once again filled in for Christian McCaffrey, and the former Oklahoma State Cowboy continued to produce. He totaled 82 rushing yards on 24 carries, including 61 yards after contact, and a touchdown. He did have a fumble, which knocked his rushing grade down to a mediocre 49.9 on first review.

Former preseason all-star Ameer Abdullah received eight carries for 31 yards, 64.5% of which came after contact. Abdullah was also the team’s second-leading receiver, notching 35 yards on four targets and three catches.

Player Rushing Grade* Att. Yds Yds After Contact Missed Tackles Forced
Ameer Abdullah 62.2 8 31 20 0
Royce Freeman 65.8 6 25 19 0
Chuba Hubbard 49.4 24 82 61 1

*Pending Monday's final review of grades 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

D.J. Moore had a solid day amid an otherwise barren passing game. He received six targets, which he turned into four receptions for 59 yards. He posted an 11.2-yard average depth of target, and 16.7% of his targets were of the deep variety. Rookie tight end Tommy Tremble was second on the team in targets (four) and third in yards (18) in mediocre day for the Carolina passing attack.

Offensive Line

The Carolina offensive line did an excellent job in pass protection, allowing just three hurries and zero sacks on 29 pass-blocking snaps en route to an 84.8 pass-blocking grade. Individually, guards Michael Jordan and Trent Scott combined to allow four of the unit’s five total pressures on the afternoon.

Defensive Line

The defensive line combined for three sacks on the afternoon, as Brian Burns, Haason Reddick and Yetur Gross-Matos each tallied one. Reddick led the unit in total pressures, with four on 29 pass-rushing snaps. Meanwhile, Gross-Matos and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones co-led the unit with a 9.1% win rate.

Linebackers

Shaq Thompson posted a team-leading nine tackles and was elite in pass coverage. He saw 23 coverage snaps and was targeted in primary coverage five times, allowing four completions for just 11 yards. He also added an interception on his way to a 92.9 coverage grade, pending final review.

Jermaine Carter was second on the team in tackles (eight), but he had a less-than-stellar performance across the board. He was efficient in run defense, not missing a tackle on 18 run-defense snaps, but he struggled against the pass, giving up five receptions on five targets for 34 yards and Atlanta’s lone touchdown.

Secondary

Carolina's secondary put together a strong day, allowing just 146 yards. Former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore made his Panthers debut and immediately made his impact felt. He allowed just two receptions on 13 coverage snaps and added an interception. Meanwhile, veteran corner AJ Bouye gave up one catch for nine yards, while Donte Jackson allowed four receptions for 42 yards.

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Atlanta Falcons

Quarterback

Matt Ryan struggled against a strong Carolina secondary, completing 51.8% of his passes past the first-down marker and throwing two interceptions. The veteran made just one big-time throw, was sacked three times and averaged only 5.4 yards per attempt. One positive note: Ryan did post an 80.8% adjusted completion percentage. 

Running Backs

After being a non-factor in the team’s win over the Miami Dolphins, Mike Davis ended up splitting carries with Cordarrelle Patterson. He finished the afternoon with 44 yards — 21 after contact — and an 11.1% stuff percentage, while Patterson tallied 42 yards after contact. He would finish with 35 total yards, though, after losing seven before contact.

Player Rushing Grade* Rush Att% Yds Yds After Contact First Downs
Cordarrelle Patterson 66.9 0.45 35 42 1
Mike Davis 56.8 0.45 44 21 1

*Pending Monday's final review of grades

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Atlanta was without its top receiving option, Calvin Ridley, in Week 8 and could be without him for the near future, too.

Rookie unicorn Kyle Pitts paced the receiving weapons in snaps (30) and targets (six), but he came away with only two receptions. The Florida product suffered from some inaccuracy, seeing just three catchable targets, but he also dropped a pass. Journeyman wideout Tajae Sharpe also saw six targets, leading the team in yards (58) on five catches, two of which were explosive.

Offensive Line

The Atlanta offensive line had its hands full all afternoon. Carolina continued to bring pressure, harassing Matt Ryan to the tune of four sacks, four hurries and 11 total pressures. Guard Jalen Mayfield particularly struggled, allowing a sack and two hurries on his way to a porous 34.8 pass-blocking grade, pending final review.

Defensive Line

The Atlanta defensive line was basically non-existent in pass-rushing situations. The unit combined for just three total pressures. Its top individual grade (at least 10 snaps) was produced by edge rusher Steven Means, who posted just a 58.9 mark on first review. On a positive note, the group posted a pending 79.9 run-defense grade and made 18 defensive stops in the run game.

Linebackers

Deion Jones paced the Falcons' defense in tackles (14) and was elite in run defense. He tallied five defensive stops, a forced fumble and zero missed tackles in run defense on his way to a pending 90.9 grade in that area. However, he did not have a great day in pass coverage, allowing five receptions for 74 yards on six targets.

Secondary

2020 first-round pick A.J. Terrell had a terrific day in coverage for the Falcons. The former Clemson Tiger allowed just two catches on 29 coverage snaps for a negative yard en route to a pending 83.1 coverage grade. Overall, Atlanta gave up just seven first downs through the air and forced two incompletions.

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