FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Two weeks ago, Russell Gage and the Falcons wide receiving core shined in the 27-25 win over the New Orleans Saints. The play that got all the attention was offensive weapon Cordarrelle Patterson's 64-yard reception that set the Falcons up for a game-winning kick from Younghoe Koo. Still, the entire group had arguably their best day of the season.
Olamide Zaccheaus reeled in two touchdowns on the day, along with his three receptions for 58 yards. One of his touchdowns came on a route where he was wide open in the back corner of the end zone after shaking former pro bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore with a precise route.
Russell Gage was the Falcons' top target, catching seven passes for 64 yards in the win Matt Ryan threw for 343 yards, his most this season, and the Falcons carved up a Saints defense that forced two interceptions just the week before from Tom Brady.
Then, against the Cowboys, the receiving group, and the passing game as a whole, for that matter, took a step back.
Ryan completed just nine of 21 passes for 117 yards, and the receiving group caught just four receptions on the day. Zaccheaus led the way with two catches for 22 yards, Frank Darby and Tajae Sharpe had one apiece, and Russell Gage finished with no receptions on three targets.
"You have your good days; you have your bad days," Gage said. "As a team, we just didn't play well, catches or not, we were not hitting on all cylinders… There were things I could've done better. There were things as an offense we could've done better. There's things you could look at all over. There's things I could've done better to get separation. I keep reiterating, but the biggest thing when I look at the film; we just didn't play well as a group."
Gage was in a similar position just three weeks ago when the Falcons lost to the Panthers, and he finished with zero targets. When he is struggling in moments or in games like the Panthers or Cowboys losses, Gage says the wide receiver group has been who he leans on for support and advice.
"No one understands the receiver side better than another receiver," Gage said. "So we kinda talk all as a group kinda break things down, so it kinda helps to understand…The guys OZ [Olamide Zaccheaus], Taj[ae] [Sharpe], [Christian] Blake they help me get over what kinda slump I am in."
And with reports that Cordarrelle Patterson may be out for the Falcons Thursday night game, Gage knows that the receivers will need to step up and is prepared.
"That hits our offense hard," Gage said. "Next mn up is kind show we see it Gallman came in and did a good job to me and to a lot of guys, so we always have the next man up mentality."
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