Offensive game ball: Russell Gage. As the Falcons’ receiving corp. remains depleted, Gage became the top target of Ryan in a key drive. The wide receiver had four receptions for 64 yards, an average of 16 yards per completion. Ryan only threw for 190 yards, with 34% of them caught by Gage. Three of the catches, for 58 yards, came on the Falcons’ first-quarter touchdown drive that tied the score at 7-7 after the Panthers took an early lead.
Defensive game ball: Mykal Walker. The Falcons linebacker gave the Falcons their second pick-six in as many weeks. Walker picked off Newton in the second quarter and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown. The defensive score gave the Falcons a 14-7 lead in the second quarter. The score came one week after defensive lineman Marlon Davidson had a 3-yard pick six of Tom Brady in the loss to the Buccaneers. Honorable mention goes to Dante Fowler, who had a sack and three tackles for a loss.
Key stat: The Falcons held the Panthers to a total of 91 yards rushing. The Panthers wanted to run the ball, much the way they did when they rushed for 203 yards in a 19-13 win over the Falcons in October. Newton had 47 yards on 10 carries and Hubbard had 33 yards on 10 carries.
Biggest takeaway: The Falcons (6-7) improved to 6-2 away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As they push for a playoff spot, the have road games at the 49ers and Bills and home games against the Lions and Saints. The two remaining road games figure to play a big part in their postseason chances.
They said it: “We were able to run the ball. I believe it was our third straight 100-yard rushing game. If we are going to be a physical team and you want to win in December, you are going to have to bring your run game with you.” – Falcons coach Arthur Smith
Next up: The Falcons head out west to play at the 49ers in a 4:05 p.m. start Sunday.