What We Saw: Week 14

Rashaad Penny came out of nowhere to be a potential league winner. Who knew?

Falcons @ Panthers

Final Score: Falcons 29, Panthers 21

Writer: Callen Elslager (@callen_elslager on Twitter and Reddit)


In a battle of NFC South rivals, it was the Falcons who came out on top and kept their hope for a playoff birth alive. Led once again by the ground game attack of Cordarrelle Patterson, it was the Falcons’ defense that was the story of the game, forcing three turnovers which the offense would then turn into points. Two turnovers in the game for Cam Newton would even lead him to be benched, where P.J. Walker was not much better with an ugly interception of his own, allowing Newton to return to the game. It wasn’t all bad news for Carolina, as the change in offensive coordinators lead to big games from both D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, reminding us of what this passing game could have been.


Atlanta Falcons




Matt Ryan: 19/28, 190 yards, TD | 4 carries, 3 yards


Matt Ryan had himself an efficient afternoon on Sunday, with the game script not requiring him to air the ball out as much as has in the past. Besides one pass early on in the game that slipped out of the Carolina defender’s hands, he was fairly on target with his passes with only a few overthrows and passes out of the reach of his receivers. His lone touchdown pass of the game was this goal-line touch pass to a wide-open Hayden Hurst who then was able to walk his way into the end zone for the score.




Running Back


Cordarrelle Patterson: 16 carries, 58 yards, TD | 5 targets, 2 receptions, 1 yard

Mike Davis: 11 carries, 44 yards | 6 targets, 5 receptions, 42 yards

Qadree Ollison: 5 carries, 23 yards


Cordarrelle Patterson once again powered through the Carolina front using his force to push for some extra yardage as the Falcons’ offensive line created plenty of space for him to work through. This was none more evident than his touchdown run at the goal line seen below, with the offensive line creating a wide open gap for Patterson to walk his way in for six.



The surprising thing was that Patterson was not as involved in the passing game as he has been in the past, with Mike Davis taking the role in the passing game and receiving quite a few dump-offs from Ryan. Whether that was because of the game script or a future trend is certainly up in the air, but this is certainly worth noting as Davis continues to have a prominent role in this offense.

The next man up, Qadree Ollison also took advantage of the space created by the offensive line, with an impressive afternoon of his own when given the ball. He was even given some work at the goal line, though could not find his way into the end zone.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Russell Gage: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 64 yards

Kyle Pitts: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 61 yards

Lee Smith: 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards

Tajae Sharpe: 2 targets, 1 reception, 7 yards

Hayden Hurst: 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards, TD


With a game script that shifted more towards the run, the passing game was not as big of a role for Atlanta in Sunday’s win. However, even with this, Russell Gage continued to impress as he has been doing in the last couple of weeks, right on time for fantasy playoffs. As the connection between him and Matt Ryan continue to grow, we are seeing him emerge as the top receiver in this offense with some more deep shots coming his way as well. His most impressive catch happened to come on one of these shots down the right side, as Gage had to reach over to catch the pass slightly behind him.



Sunday also happened to be one of the better games for Kyle Pitts in a while, continuing to receive the targets he has throughout the season. These targets also came in crucial situations such as down in the red zone and on a critical third-down conversion late in the game to help Atlanta continue to wind down the clock and avoid giving the ball back to Carolina.



While the numbers aren’t jumping off the charts on a weekly basis for Pitts, he is still doing things to help the team win games and giving the Atlanta Falcons (yes, the Atlanta Falcons) an opportunity to make the playoffs.


Carolina Panthers




Cam Newton: 15/23, 178 yards, INT | 10 carries, 47 yards, TD

P.J. Walker: 6/12, 75 yards, TD, INT | 2 carries, -5 yards


Sunday was another struggle for Cam Newton that even resulted in him being benched late in the second quarter before returning after halftime. While he effectively used his legs to run for a touchdown in the red zone, the rest of the game was pretty rough for Newton. This consisted of an ugly interception which resulted in a pick-six and a fumble from a dropped ball on an attempted handoff.



The switch to P.J. Walker was not much better, with some off-target passes and an interception thrown into triple coverage while under pressure from the defense. These sorts of errors made the decision to switch back to Cam Newton a pretty easy one even with his struggles as well.




Running Back


Chuba Hubbard: 10 carries, 33 yards, TD

Ameer Abdullah: 4 carries, 16 yards | 4 targets, 2 receptions, 17 yards


Atlanta’s defense did a great job keeping Chuba Hubbard quiet for most of the game on Sunday, keeping him limited to short gains throughout. However, he did break off a touchdown run in the red zone, breaking to the outside as the offensive line sealed off a path for him. However, the game script quickly forced the Panthers to throw the ball which created more of an opportunity for Ameer Abdullah, who came in once in a while to spell Hubbard. Abdullah also was quite involved in the passing game, and saw more while coming in for passing down situations throughout.



Wide Receiver/Tight End


Robby Anderson: 12 targets, 7 receptions, 84 yards, TD

D.J. Moore: 10 targets, 6 receptions, 84 yards

Brandon Zylstra: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 45 yards

Tommy Tremble: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards

Ian Thomas: 2 targets


The chemistry between Cam Newton and Robby Anderson continues to be one of note as he once again emerged as the top target in this offense. While this may have been aided by D.J. Moore leaving for a bit in the first quarter due to a hand injury, Anderson got the most of the work in the red zone and capitalized on this opportunity with a nice leaping catch in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown late in the 4th quarter.



As mentioned above, D.J. Moore left the game in the first quarter to get looked at for a hand injury. This came after Carolina’s new offensive coordinator made a clear effort to get Moore involved, with quick targets his way to open up the first drive for the Panthers. Luckily for Carolina, Moore would return to the game and remain very involved in the offense, often getting looks to keep the drive going and convert on third down. The emphasis on getting him the ball seemed to work and allowed Moore to continue to progress in the right direction, with an even better day possible had he not left in the first quarter.


— Callen Elslager (@callen_elslager on Twitter and Reddit)

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