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FFL: Playoff Week 8 | NFL: Superbowl

Ryan leads Falcons to another big win over Panthers, 40-20

Sun Dec 8 5:14pm ET
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer

Players: Matt Ryan, Younghoe Koo, Kyle Allen, Olamide Zaccheaus, Calvin Ridley, Ian Thomas

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley (98) celebrates on a defensive play against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)


Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley (98) celebrtates a tackle against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)


Atlanta Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley (44) causes Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen (7) to fumble during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)


Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo (7) jumps into Atlanta Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver (26) after Koo recovered a fumble against the Carolina Panthersduring the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)


Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) hits Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)


Carolina Panthers wide receiver Greg Dortch (14) misses the ball against Atlanta Falcons defensive back Kemal Ishmael (36) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)


Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (17) celebrates his touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)


Carolina Panthers interim head coach Perry Fewell speaks with an offical during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)


Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (18) misses the catch against Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)


Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works in the pocket against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)


Carolina Panthers strong safety Eric Reid (25) hits Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (18) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)


ATLANTA (AP) Matt Ryan threw the longest touchdown pass of his career and became the 10th quarterback in NFL history to reach 50,000 yards, leading the Atlanta Falcons to another dominating win over Carolina, 40-20 Sunday.

The Panthers (5-8) were officially eliminated from playoff contention with their fifth straight loss, which ruined the debut of interim coach Perry Fewell. He took over at the beginning of the week after longtime coach Ron Rivera was fired.

Atlanta (4-9) snapped a two-game losing streak and swept the season series with their I-85 rival. The Falcons won the first meeting 29-3 at Charlotte on Nov. 17.

Throwing from his own end zone, Ryan finished off the Panthers with a 93-yard touchdown pass to little-used Olamide Zaccheaus in the third quarter. It was a milestone play for both - the longest TD of Ryan's 12-year career, and the first career reception for Zaccheaus, an undrafted rookie.

Fewell and the Panthers endured a thoroughly miserable game. Kyle Allen was picked off twice and lost a fumble. Carolina fumbled another one away on a kickoff return, the ball deflecting into the arms of kicker Younghoe Koo, setting off a wild celebration as Koo bounced toward the sideline.

Koo also booted four field goals, including a 35-yard field goal on the final play of the first half put the Falcons ahead to stay at 13-10. The home team thoroughly dominated the final two quarters, outscoring Carolina 27-10 while piling up a season high for points.

Devonta' Freeman's 13-yard touchdown run extended Atlanta's lead, before Ryan delivered the pass to Zaccheaus that finished off the Panthers. The 5-foot-8 rookie beat Donte Jackson, hauled in the thrown near the midfield logo and breezed to the end zone, with Jackson sprawled out on the turf behind him and no other Carolina player around.

Ryan finished 20 of 34 for 313 yards, also throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley late in the second quarter.

Ryan increased his passing total to 50,279 yards. His next target on the career list is John Elway, the NFL's ninth-leading passer with 51,475 yards.

Allen connected with Ian Thomas on a 1-yard scoring pass and tacked on a meaningless touchdown in the closing minutes with a 1-yard dive.

INJURY REPORT

Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant added another ailment to his injury plagued year.

Trufant went out in the first half with a forearm injury and didn't return. He already missed four games this season with a toe injury.

Ridley also left the game with abdominal pain, while the Panthers lost backup linebacker Marquis Haynes with a knee injury.

UP NEXT

Carolina: Return home next Sunday to face the Seattle Seahawks in the penultimate home game of the season.

Atlanta: Head west Sunday to meet the San Francisco 49ers, who are coached by former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

Player Notes
Jimmy Graham Jan 23 1:33am ET

Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham is expected to be released during the offseason, in the opinion of The Green Bay Press-Gazette's Pete Dougherty, who called the prospective move a 'given.' Graham has one year remaining on his deal. Releasing him would free up $8 million in cap room.

Fantasy Spin: Graham posted a 38-447-3 line in his age-33 season, and despite playing well in the playoffs he has been a disappointment since signing with the Packers. Wherever he plays (if he does) in 2020, Graham's days as a TE1 seem far in the rear view.

From TheHuddle

Adrian Amos Jan 23 1:23am ET

Green Bay Packers S Adrian Amos (pectoral) is unlikely to require surgery on his injured pec, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. Amos suffered the injury during the NFC Championship Game.

From TheHuddle

Austin Hooper Jan 22 11:23pm ET

Updating a previous report, impending free-agent Austin Hooper (Falcons) is expected to receive overtures from the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins if he is allowed to reach the open market, according to sources via Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline.

From TheHuddle

Robert Quinn Jan 22 11:23pm ET

Impending free-agent DE Robert Quinn (Cowboys) would prefer to remain with the Dallas Cowboys, and sources have told Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline that team owner/general manager Jerry Jones has been 'aggressive' in letting Quinn know he wants him to return.

From TheHuddle

Austin Hooper Jan 22 11:03pm ET

Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper is not close to a contract extension with the team, according to general manager Thomas Dimitroff Tuesday, Jan. 21. 'The reality right now is that we are trudging along,' Dimitroff said. 'Once we get back from the Super Bowl, after the Super Bowl week we'll continue to look and see how we are moving forward. But at this point there are no updates on Austin.'

Fantasy Spin: Hooper is coming off a career year in which he caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns. He's an excellent third option behind WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in Atlanta, but his play this year may have priced him out of the Falcons' budget for 2020 and beyond. His potential free-agent destination would have a big impact on his 2020 draft stock.

From TheHuddle

Josh McCown Jan 22 10:20pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Josh McCown spoke with head coach Doug Pederson about a potential role on the coaching staff, but McCown isn't ready to retire just yet. The veteran QB came out of retirement last August to sign a one-year deal with the Eagles. He's currently recovering from a torn hamstring that he suffered in the wild-card loss to the Seahawks. McCown threw only five passes during the regular season and served as a de facto player/coach as Carson Wentz's backup. He has some potential as a future offensive coordinator, but it's unlikely he would immediately be considered as Mike Groh's successor in Philly. Wherever McCown is playing in 2020, he'll strictly be a backup and won't have any fantasy value.

From RotoBaller

Antonio Brown Jan 22 10:13pm ET

Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) had an arrest warrant on a felony charge of burglary and battery issued against him Wednesday, Jan. 22, by Hollywood, Fla. police. A moving truck driver claimed he was assaulted by Brown and his trainer. Brown also was charged with one count of burglary of an occupied conveyance and one count of criminal mischief.

Fantasy Spin: Dynasty owners should be preparing to move on from Brown before finalizing their rosters ahead of 2020 drafts.

From TheHuddle

Odell Beckham Jr. Jan 22 10:03pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. will sit down with new head coach Kevin Stefanski Thursday, Jan. 23, to discuss Stefanski's plan for personal conduct. 'I'm looking forward to sitting down with Odell face to face,' Stefanski said. 'I haven't had the chance to do that yet and I get the chance to do that (Thursday). And at that point, that's when I can start laying out my expectations for Odell and all of our players.' Beckham was caught on video at the College Football Playoff Championship Game earlier this month appearing to hand out cash to LSU Tigers players, as well as appearing to slap a security officer on the butt in the locker room. Charges had been filed against Beckham for the latter incident, but they were later dropped.

Fantasy Spin: Beckham totaled 1,035 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland. Bigger things were expected, and the hiring of Stefanski should help lead to improvements for 2020. He remains a top-end WR1.

From TheHuddle

Travis Kelce Jan 22 8:00pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Kelce will be just fine to suit up on Feb. 2 against the 49ers in the Super Bowl. He was the top fantasy tight end in 2019 and hasn't slowed down in the postseason, catching 13 of 16 targets for 164 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans and Titans. Most of that production came in the Divisional Round when he had 10 grabs for 134 yards and three scores, but Kelce can go off at any time and could be the X-factor in the Super Bowl in two weeks.

From RotoBaller

Tevin Coleman Jan 22 7:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was unable to practice on Wednesday, but the team remains hopeful that he will be available for the Super Bowl against the Chiefs. The team didn't practice on Wednesday, but they were required to submit an estimated practice report. Coleman dislocated his right shoulder in the first half of the NFC Championship against the Packers and played just eight snaps. If he's active for the Super Bowl, Coleman will split snaps with Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers. Matt Breida will be the No. 3 back.

From RotoBaller

Dalvin Cook Jan 22 7:33pm ET

Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder) indicated that he will be ready for the start of offseason workouts. Cook is entering the final year of his contract and is a candidate for an extension this offseason.

Fantasy Spin: Cook was one of the top running backs in the NFL this season with 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season. He will continue to be a focal point on offense for the Vikings next season and will be an early round pick in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Dee Ford Jan 22 7:03pm ET

San Francisco 49ers LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral), DE Dee Ford (hamstring, quadriceps) and S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) were limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle) fully participated in practice. The 49ers did not hold a practice Wednesday, so the injury report is an estimation.

From TheHuddle

Tevin Coleman Jan 22 6:53pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. The 49ers did not hold a practice Wednesday, so this is an estimation.

Fantasy Spin: The 49ers are optimistic about Coleman's status for Super Bowl LIV, but he may be a game-time decision. He will share snaps with Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida if he plays and could be a flex option in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Drew Brees Jan 22 6:43pm ET

New Orleans Saints impending free-agent QB Drew Brees is a player that the Saints want to keep as long as he wants to keep playing, according to general manager Mickey Loomis.

Fantasy Spin: Brees will be a free agent this offseason, but the Saints will try to re-sign him. He finished with 2,979 yards and 27 touchdowns in the regular season and can be considered a No. 1 quarterback in most fantasy leagues in 2020.

From TheHuddle

Jarvis Landry Jan 22 6:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip), who had a career-high 1,174 receiving yards and six touchdowns on his way to his fifth Pro Bowl selection in six years, said he played the entire 2019 season with a hip injury. "I'm good. I'm good," Landry said. "Just in this recovery process, this rehab process to make sure I can get back to my 100 percent self." The good news is that Landry won't require surgery on his hip in the offseason, and he should be fully healthy in 2020 under new head coach Kevin Stefanski. Cleveland's offense struggled to find consistency last season, but Landry was a consistent bright spot next to Odell Beckham Jr. He should once again be a rock-solid WR2 for owners in PPR leagues.

From RotoBaller

Travis Kelce Jan 22 6:13pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) was limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Fantasy Spin: Kelce probably will be limited over the next two weeks but will be ready to play in Super Bowl LIV. He is a must-start fantasy option in all leagues as long as he is healthy.

From TheHuddle

Morris Claiborne Jan 22 6:13pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris D. Jones (calf) was limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. WR Mecole Hardman (back), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (hand) and C Austin Reiter (wrist) fully participated in practice.

From TheHuddle

A.J. Green Jan 22 5:23pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals impending free-agent WR A.J. Green is a player the Bengals plan to have on their roster next season, according to director of player personnel Duke Tobin.

Fantasy Spin: Green did not play during the 2019 season because of an ankle injury but could still receive the franchise tag this offseason. Green is a weekly starting option when healthy, but fantasy players should monitor his situation during the offseason.

From TheHuddle

Eli Manning Jan 22 5:20pm ET

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will hold a news conference on Friday to announce his retirement, according to sources. The writing has been on the wall for Manning after the Giants replaced him with rookie Daniel Jones during the 2019 season. The 39-year-old former first overall pick played in just four games for the G-Men in his 16th and final NFL season. Manning will finish his career with a 60.3 completion percentage, 57,023 passing yards, 366 touchdowns and 244 interceptions. He'll best be known for besting Tom Brady and the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl. Manning's best season came in 2011 when he threw for 4,933 yards, 29 TDs and 16 picks.

From RotoBaller

Andy Dalton Jan 22 4:53pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton's future with the Bengals is uncertain at this time, according to director of player personnel Duke Tobin. The Bengals would save $17.7 million in salary cap space if they trade or release Dalton.

Fantasy Spin: The Bengals have the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and appear likely to take a quarterback with the pick, so Dalton could be let go this offseason. Dalton may have a chance to find a starting job in free agency but can be avoided in most fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle