Week 13 Game Recap: Atlanta Falcons 6, Carolina Panthers 24
What you need to know
QB Michael Vick faced a ferocious pass rush from the Panthers. He was hit hard and often throughout the game. Vick left the pocket early twice and scrambled for big plays, but Carolina kept him in the pocket from then on forcing him to try and win the game with his arm.
RB Warrick Dunn found little room to run against the Panthers. Even though he averaged 5.0 yards per carry, the majority of his yards came on two runs in the third quarter. The Falcons’ offense ground to a halt after they weren’t able to move the sticks with their running game.
RB DeShaun Foster replaced Stephen Davis at the beginning of the third Panthers’ possession. Foster remained the featured player for the rest of the game. Davis returned for one late carry only to spell Foster for a moment. Foster gave the Carolina running game a much needed boost.
WR Steve Smith was targeted nearly twice as often as the rest of the Panthers’ receiving corps combined. After the initial Carolina drive Smith was targeted at least once on seven of the next eight Panthers’ possessions.
The Carolina pass rush dominated the game. Beyond sacking QB Michael Vick five times they hurried Vick on multiple plays while simultaneously keeping him contained in the pocket.
What you ought to know
|QB Michael Vick, Pass: 17 - 35 - 171 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 36 - 0|
Vick started the game erratically on the first two Falcons’ possessions, but came to life making three big plays on their third drive. He converted a long third down scrambling to his left and outrunning the pass rush in a manner only he could do. Vick followed that up by floating a beautiful fade down the left sideline to TE Alge Crumpler for 31 yards. Another 16 yard scramble off of a naked bootleg set up the Todd Peterson for the first score of the game. Vick completed only two passes in the first quarter, but got hot completing seven out of eight attempts in the second quarter. However, the Carolina pass rush made several big plays killing all but one Falcons’ drive. The second half was more of the same including two interceptions. Vick wasn’t able to complete anything deep down field. The Panthers chose not to respect anything deep and were able to crowd the line of scrimmage intensify their pressure up front.
|RB Warrick Dunn, Rush: 16 - 80 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets)|
Dunn ran hard through the first half, mostly between the tackles, but didn’t have much room to run averaging less than three yards per carry. Dunn lined up at quarterback with QB Michael Vick in motion on one odd play. Dunn faked the inside handoff to Vick and ran off right guard for a five yard gain on third and six. Dunn had two longer carries of 15 and 23 yards in the third quarter, but was limited in his carries late because of the deficit on the scoreboard.
|RB T.J. Duckett, Rush: 4 - 4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets)|
Duckett’s first action came at the start of the second quarter. He had two carries pounding between the tackles for no gain and four yards. Duckett was stopped for no gain on both of his other two carries including a short yardage situation of third and two in the second half.
Finneran saw his first target at the start of the second quarter. He leapt high in the air on the sideline and pulled down a 12 yard reception barely keeping his toes in bounds. He followed that up with a short three yard catch on third down that was just short of the marker. Finneran saw three of his targets late in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach, including one pass that was intercepted.
Jenkins started the game at wide receiver. His 14 yard reception at the start of the second quarter gave the Falcon offense a lift and led to the second Peterson field goal. Jenkins was targeted on QB Michael Vicks second interception late in the game. When Jenkins did make a reception he was dropped immediately each time.
White hooked up on three of his four targets with QB Michael Vick. It seems apparent that White will be used more often as the Falcons’ deep target when they do choose to go up top.
Crumpler was targeted on two of the first three Falcons’ plays to start the game. He dropped what would have been enough to pick up a first down on a crossing pattern. The throw was low, but by Crumpler standards he should have made the reception. He more than made up for the drop on their third drive pulling in a 31 yard deep ball. Crumpler lined up at the wide receiver position one on one with CB Ken Lucas. Lucas got a hand on the ball, but Crumpler pulled the ball in over his shoulder leading to the first Falcons’ points in the game. Crumpler disappeared through the middle of the game and didn’t reappear until the fourth quarter when he made two short receptions.
Peterson hit his two first half attempts from 36 and 43 yards, but missed from 49 yards later in the game. This was Peterson’s first miss of the season after hitting on 18 consecutive attempts.
RB DeShaun Foster may have earned a starting running back position ahead of teammate Stephen Davis. The Falcons played a large part in helping Foster look good. They were dominated at the line of scrimmage on far too many plays routinely give up five and six yards per run.
QB Jake Delhomme wasn’t sacked in the game. They hit him a few times, but Delhomme was always able to get a pass away. Not being able to stop the Panthers on first and second downs didn’t allow the Falcons to see many obvious passing situations. CB DeAngelo Hall had a tough time keeping up with WR Steve Smith. Hall did a nice job of jumping a quick hitch route in the red zone against Smith, but after he missed a tackle Smith was able to sprint to the end zone.
|QB Jake Delhomme, Pass: 17 - 27 - 164 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 1 - 0|
Delhomme wasn’t spectacular in this game, but he did a nice job of avoiding major mistakes and not taking any sacks. His lone interception occurred when a pass rusher hit his arm just as he was delivering a pass. Delhomme was accurate and efficient while taking all the underneath routes that were available to him. Delhomme’s longest completion of the game was only 18 yards. He nearly connected with WR Ricky Proehl on a deep ball down the right sideline, but Proehl couldn’t maintain possession of the ball as he came to the ground.
Foster entered the game on the Panthers’ third possession replacing RB Stephen Davis. Foster gave the Carolina offense a huge lift with carries of six and 30 yards leading to his 18 yard touchdown reception. Foster caught the ball in the flat and sprinted away from the linebacker to the end zone. His 30 yard carry at the start of the drive was “Earl Campbellesque” leaving tacklers in his wake rumbling down the center of the field. On their next possession Foster showed the ability to cut and sprint to a new hole with a quick stutter step. Foster showed power and moves throughout the game. The Panthers’ offense leaned heavily on Foster and rewarded him late with his first rushing touchdown of the season.
Davis started the game and opened both of the first two Panthers’ drives with four total carries. Both drives went three and out. When RB DeShaun Foster gave the Panthers’ offense a lift Davis stayed on the bench until the fourth quarter.
Smith’s first target was a deep ball to the end zone on the Panthers' second drive. Through the rest of the first half Smith was targeted on quick hitches for short gains. The Falcons’ cornerbacks were lining up seven to ten yards off the line of scrimmage. Eventually Atlanta got wise and CB DeAngelo Hall attempted to jump the route. He picked the right play, but missed the tackle. Smith broke away and scampered down the left sideline for the touchdown. Smith opened the third quarter with a 13 yard catch on a crossing pattern. He used his speed to separate away from Hall on the play making it an easy throw for QB Jake Delhomme. On the next play Smith was targeted on a deep post. The pass hit him in the arms, but Smith didn’t appear to be ready for the ball. Smith also dropped a ball early in the fourth quarter on a crossing route in the red zone.
Colbert caught three short passes. His last one was a hitch at the line of scrimmage. Colbert used his size and speed to pick up seven yards on the play.
Proehl pulled in a deep pass down the right sideline at the end of the second quarter, but he wasn’t able to maintain possession when he slammed into the ground. He did a nice job of pulling the pass in over his shoulder and keeping his feet in bounds. The play was initially ruled a reception on the field, but was overturned by instant replay.
Gardner’s lone target came in the second quarter.
The Carolina tight end position was a non-factor in the Carolina game plan.
Kasay hit his only field goal attempt from 20 yards. Also of note, Kasay punted twice in the game in place of P Jason Baker. He averaged a better than respectable 45 yards per punt.
The Panthers stacked the line of scrimmage without fear of being beat deep by QB Michael Vick. They consistently slammed the door on RB Warrick Dunn holding the NFL’s leading rushing team to only 120 rushing yards. They were also able to contain QB Michael Vick preventing him from getting outside the pocket for big yards.
The Panthers suffered an early blow losing DE Julius Peppers to a knee injury, but they didn’t miss a beat bringing pressure on QB Michael Vick. Three first half sacks and several other pressures killed Atlanta drives. Carolina relentlessly brought linebackers throughout the game. Peppers returned to the game and recorded one of the two fourth quarter sacks by the Panther defense. The secondary picked off two passes late in the fourth quarter. CB Mike Minter did a great job of diving in front of WR Brian Finneran to pick off the first one. This interception led to the touchdown by RB DeShaun Foster that put the game out of reach.