Entering Sunday, the two of the primary Falcons running backs' touches were pretty close in quantities, but against the Panthers, Devonta Freeman ran —and caught— so well, he made sure the coaching staff continued to stick with the hot hand.
Turner's hand was indeed hot and he gave the Falcons a boost when the offense needed it most. In the first half, he rushed for 61 hard-fought yards and helped to open up the passing game.
Quarterback Matt Ryan used the Panthers' newfound-respect for Atlanta's run game to employ the play-action pass on their first touchdown. With attention on Turner, Ryan faked a handoff to the running back and hit Julio Jones with a deep 49-yard pass into the endzone.
Turner finished the day with 16 touches, 13 rushes and three catches, including the first touchdown reception of his career, a 60-yarder in the third quarter to give the Falcons a 24-14 lead. Turner flipped the short screen pass into one of the biggest plays of the day, thanks to some helpful blocking from his teammates on his way to the endzone.
"That's what kept me going straight down field," Turner said. "I was thinking about going to the sideline but I saw Tony (Gonzalez) make a great block so I just ran right off him."
If Turner was one of the hot hands, the other belonged to White, who ended the day with 169 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Perhaps White's biggest play of the day wasn't a touchdown, but the 59-yard reception on the last drive of the game.
Starting from the 1-yard line, Ryan launched a deep throw to White, connecting with him to get the Falcons over midfield and closer to field goal range for the game winner. After White's huge catch, the Falcons used four plays to get to the 22-yard line to allow Josh Harris to connect on a 40-yard field goal to steal a victory from their NFC South rival.
White said once the catch was made and they'd gained big yards on one play, he knew they would come away with the win. Before the throw, White was pretty sure Ryan was going to look his way.
"Matt told me he was going to throw it up there and for me to make a play," White said. "I saw it and I tried to track the ball, get to it and hold onto it and give us an opportunity to win. I knew if I caught that ball we'd be in field goal range. I just wanted to go out there and make a play."
The come-from-behind 30-28 victory gave the Falcons their fourth win of the season and they sit alone atop the NFC South. Atlanta will return to the road next week and travel to Washington to take on the Redskins.