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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Stock Watch: NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas

FALLING

Matt Ryan, quarterback, Falcons. Yes, he came away with a win Sunday and that is the bottom line. But Ryan threw a career-high five interceptions against the Cardinals. That’s enough, at least for the moment, to take him out of the Most Valuable Player conversations. Not all the interceptions were Ryan’s fault. Still, he has to be sharper than that if the Falcons are going to go anywhere in the playoffs.

Thomas Davis, linebacker, Panthers. The guy has been a tremendous story as he’s come back from his third torn ACL, and he’s played better than anyone could have hoped for. But Davis handed the Buccaneers 15 yards when he was flagged for a penalty late in Sunday’s game. That helped the Panthers squander what once had been an 11-point lead with less than five minutes left.

Charles Johnson, defensive end, Panthers. He called out his teammates via Twitter and said the late collapse was embarrassing. No argument there. But I just double checked the stat sheet and Johnson didn’t have a sack or a tackle against the Bucs. Shouldn’t the highest-paid player on the team at least do something positive at some point in a game? If Johnson had done that, then maybe his words would have carried some weight.

RISING

John Abraham and Jonathan Babineaux, defensive linemen, Falcons. They helped bail out Ryan and the offense multiple times. But the play that stood out came in the second quarter when Abraham hit the arm of Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley as he was about to throw. The ball came loose and a lot of players from both teams stood around thinking it was an incomplete pass. But Babineaux realized no whistles had blown, so he picked the ball up and ran it in for a touchdown.

Dallas Clark, tight end, Buccaneers. The veteran has been quiet for most of the season. But he came through in a big way Sunday. He had seven catches for 58 yards, including 15-yard touchdown from Josh Freeman to win the game in overtime.

Mark Ingram, running back, Saints. He’s been a target for criticism since the Saints drafted him in the first round last season. Ingram hadn’t shown much, largely because he wasn’t getting many carries, and fans were growing impatient with him. But that’s started to change in recent weeks. Against Oakland, Ingram averaged 5.6 yards a carry, finished with 67 rushing yards and had a 27-yard touchdown run.