The Atlanta Falcons faced off against their dreaded division rivals in the Carolina Panthers in Week 14. Fortunately, they took home the victory by a final score of 29-21.
This win puts the Falcons back in the hunt for a playoff berth, despite some dreadful losses over the past month-plus. But let’s stay positive!
Here are out three key takeaways from this Falcons Week 14 victory on Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons Week 14 Takeaways vs. Carolina Panthers
3. Offensive juggernaut Cordarrelle Patterson
Name: Cordarrelle Patterson
Position: WRB1 pic.twitter.com/Qyzc6z1eRd
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) December 13, 2021
Though the Falcons have been rather up-and-down in the 2021 NFL season, there is one offensive player that has provided nothing but highlights. Of course, the player I’m referring to is veteran running back/receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
At age 30, Patterson is putting his finest offensive season after years of being known as a kickoff return specialist.
Patterson is no stranger to electrifying runs, but most of that work was done as a kick returner, which led to him making four Pro Bowls, four All-Pro teams and the NFL Hall of Fame’s All-2010s team.
Now, heading into his eighth season in the league, it seemed unlikely that he would uncover new talents, but that’s exactly what he’s done: becoming the Falcons’ most impactful offensive player in the void left by Julio Jones.
Against the Panthers, Patterson continue to put up numbers, logging a rushing touchdown and becoming the first player in Falcons franchise history to score five rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns. His 10 total touchdowns are the highest of his career, besting the nine he put up in his rookie season (which includes two kickoff return TDs).
2. Turnovers swing Falcons’ way
Despite coming into the game with the fourth-most sacks in the NFL, the Panthers were unable to touch Matt Ryan on Sunday. Credit to the Falcons’ widely criticized O-Line must be given, as they stifled a fairly talented Panthers D-Line.
For the Falcons on defense, they were a turnover machine, something that could be rarely said about the team in years past.
Cam Newton was intercepted once by second-year linebacker Mykal Walker, leading to a pick-six. And then Newton’s replacement, PJ Walker, immediately threw another interception on his second pass attempt to cornerback A.J. Terrell.
This one’s for you baby boy 💙🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/jItU05RxaR
— Mykal Walker (@MykalWalker3) December 13, 2021
When Newton returned, he lost a fumble when he stepped on his center’s foot in the scrum around the line.
While not all games will go this way for the Falcons, an impressive +3 showing in turnover differential is sure to boost the team’s confidence on both sides.
1. Playoff Picture
With this win, the Falcons are squarely back in the hunt for the final playoff berth in the NFC.
While the sixth seed is likely out of the question with the talented San Francisco 49ers sitting in that slot with a 7-6 record, the seventh seed is still up for grabs with a whopping five teams tied for that spot with a 6-7 record… including the Falcons.
Of course, because Atlanta has some notable losses to the teams above them, they currently sit in 10th position with only four games left in the season.
As it sits, the Washington Football Team is in pole position as they boast tiebreaking wins over both the Falcons and New Orleans Saints.
The Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles are both above the Falcons as well, at eighth and ninth, respectively. The Eagles defeated the Falcons on opening day handily by a 32-6 margin. Atlanta has beaten the Saints already this year, on Nov. 7, but the teams still have one game left to play on Jan. 9.
Clearly, the Falcons are going to need some “help” for the teams above them to lose, especially the Eagles and WFT, if they want to make it to the playoffs this season–which does indeed seem to be the goal.