Tar Heels in NFL: Smith’s Falcons pull out last-second win; Hollins has 40 reception yards; Carter’s usage continues to fall

By R.L. Bynum

A 20–19 victory for Coach Arthur Smith’s Atlanta Falcons at home against Arizona highlighted Week 17 for UNC alums as his team finally pulled out a victory in a close game.

Atlanta earned the victory with a late drive to produce Youngkoe Koo’s 21-yard game-winning field goal with two seconds left.

“It was a good feeling for us. We’ve been in some of these close games with a young football team in some critical spots,” Smith said. “These opportunities to grow and to execute in those moments, it was cool to see.”

Rookie Atlanta quarterback Desmond Ridder, 19 of 26 for 169 yards, engineered the late drive as the Falcons went 67 yards in 12 plays.

It was the Falcons’ sixth consecutive game decided by eight points or fewer, but only the second win in that span. Atlanta (6–10) finishes the season at home Sunday against Tampa Bay.

Defensive tackle Jalen Dalton had a tackle and an assist for Atlanta in 37 total snaps.


Interim Indianapolis Colts coach Jeff Saturday suffered his sixth consecutive defeat after winning his debut at Las Vegas on Nov. 13. They lost 38–10 on the road to the New York Giants and fell to 4–11–1.

With the win, the Giants (9–6–1) clinched their first playoff berth since 2016. Linebacker Tomon Fox had two assists in 37 total snaps off the bench for New York.


Although Michael Carter got more snaps (20–15) than starter Bam Knight, a former N.C. State running back, his usage for the New York Jets continues to be low.

Carter had one carry for two yards and two catches for three yards in the New York Jets’ 23–6 loss at Seattle. Knight got eight carries for 27 yards and two catches for 17 yards.

The Jets (7–9) have lost five consecutive games after looking like a playoff team earlier this season.


Mack Hollins had three catches on four targets for 40 yards, including a 21-yard catch, in the Las Vegas Raiders’ 37–34 overtime home loss to San Francisco. The Raiders (6–10) have lost two consecutive games.

The Raiders became the fifth team in NFL history to lose five games in a season that it had been leading by 10 or more points in the second half.


James Hurst started at left tackle for New Orleans and played every offensive snap in the Saints’ 20–10 home victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the third consecutive win for New Orleans (7–9).


In Washington’s 24–10 home loss to Cleveland, Dyami Brown played but had no statistics and Sam Howell wasn’t active for the game.

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With the Commanders (7–8–1) eliminated from playoff contention, could Howell finally make his NFL regular-season debut next week?


After starting the two previous weeks, offensive lineman Charlie Heck played only three total snaps for the Houston Texans in their 31–3 home loss to Jacksonville. M.J. Stewart Jr. had one special-teams assist for Houston in 37 total snaps.


Andre Smith played off the bench with no statistics in the Tennessee Titans’ 27–13 home loss Thursday against Dallas.


Minnesota running back Ty Chandler came off injured reserve last week after recovering from a broken thumb but wasn’t active for the Vikings’ 41–17 road loss to Green Bay.

Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Bucs running back
Age 31 | 5–9, 205 | 10th NFL season | UNC 2011–12

30–24 Sunday win vs. Carolina Played 13 special-teams snaps bench with no statistics
Season statistics — 7 games, 1 carry, 0 yards
Up next — 1 p.m. Sunday at Atlanta, Fox


Dyami Brown, Washington Commanders wide receiver
Age 23 | 6–0, 195 | second NFL season | UNC 2018–20

24–10 Sunday loss vs. Cleveland Played off bench, no statistics; 11 offensive snaps (16%), 7 special-teams snaps (33%)
Season statistics — 14 games, 5 catches on 12 targets for 143 yards (28.6 average, 75 longest), 2 TDs; 1 rush, 15 yards, 1 special-teams assist
Up next — 4:25 p.m. Sunday vs. Dallas, Fox


Michael Carter, New York Jets running back
Age 23 | 5–8, 201 | second NFL season | UNC 2017–20

23–6 Sunday loss at Seattle Didn’t start; 1 carry, 2 yards; 2 catches on 3 targets, 3 yards (4 longest); 20 offensive snaps (29%)
Season statistics — 15 games, 9 starts; 111 carries, 398 yards (25 longest, 3.6 average), 3 TDs; 37 catches on 47 targets, 284 yards (37 longest, 7.7 average)
Up next — 1 p.m. Sunday at Miami, Fox


Jalen Dalton, Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle
Age 25 | 6–6, 300 | third NFL season | UNC 2015–18

20–19 Sunday win vs. Arizona 1 tackle, 1 assist; 31 defensive snaps (42%), 6 special-teams snaps (24%)
Season statistics — 7 games, 8 tackles, 5 assists
Up next — 1 p.m. Sunday vs. New Orleans, Fox


Tomon Fox, New York Giants linebacker
Age 24 | 6–3, 260 | rookie NFL season | UNC 2016–21

38–10 Sunday win vs. Indianapolis Played off the bench with 2 assists; 24 defensive snaps (24%), 13 special-teams snaps (54%)
Season statistics —
12 games, 2 starts; 7 tackles, 9 assists, 1 sack
Up next — 4:25p.m. Sunday at Philadelphia, CBS


Charlie Heck, Houston Texans tackle
Age 26 | 6–8, 311 | third NFL season | UNC 2015–19

31–3 Sunday loss vs. Jacksonville Played off the bench; reported tackle-eligible twice; 2 offensive snaps (3%), 1 special-teams snap (4%)
Season statistics — 12 games, 3 starts; 156 offensive snaps, 45 special-teams snaps
Up next — 1 p.m. Sunday at Indianapolis, CBS


Mack Hollins, Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver
Age 29 | 6–4, 221 | sixth NFL season | UNC 2013–16

37–34 Sunday OT loss vs. San Francisco Started; 3 catches on 4 targets for 40 yards (21 longest); 60 offensive snaps (86%), 1 special-teams snap (3%)
Season statistics — 16 games, 12 starts; 1 of 1 passing, 4 yards; 4 rush, 40 yards (10.0 average; 17 longest); 55 catches on 87 targets, 675 yards (12.3 average, 60 longest), 4 TDs
Up next — 4:30 Saturday vs. Kansas City, ESPN, ABC


Sam Howell, Washington Commanders quarterback
Age 22 | 6–1, 220 | rookie NFL season |UNC 2019–21

24–10 Sunday loss vs. Cleveland Wasn’t active for the game
Season statistics — Hasn’t played
Up next — 4:25 p.m. Sunday vs. Dallas, Fox


James Hurst, New Orleans Saints tackle
Age 31 | 6–5, 310 | ninth NFL season | UNC 2010–13

20–10 Sunday win at Philadelphia Started at left tackle; 69 offensive snaps (100%), 4 special-teams snaps (15%)
Season statistics — 13 games; 13 starts, 1 fumble recovery, 1 tackle on an interception return; 915 offensive snaps, 33 special-teams snaps
Up next — 1 p.m. Sunday vs. Carolina, Fox


Andre Smith, Tennessee Titans defensive lineman
Age 25 | 6–0, 240 | fifth NFL season | UNC 2015–17

27–13 Thursday loss vs. Dallas — Played off the bench with no statistics; had a tackle on a play an offensive penalty nullified; 9 defensive snaps (15%), 13 special-teams snaps (54%)
Season statistics —
4 games; 3 tackles
Up next —
8:15 Saturday at Jacksonville, ESPN, ABC


M.J. Stewart Jr., Houston Texans safety
Age 27 | 5–11, 200 | fifth NFL season | UNC 2014–17

31–3 Sunday loss vs. Jacksonville Played off the bench with one special-teams assist; 19 defensive snaps (30%), 18 special-teams snaps (72%)
Season statistics —
15 games; 23 tackles, 5 assists, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 fumble recovery, 7 special-teams tackles, 4 special-teams assists
Up next —
1 p.m. Sunday at Indianapolis, CBS


Mitchell Trubisky, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback
Age 28 | 6–2, 220 | sixth NFL season | UNC 2014–16

16–13 Sunday win at Baltimore Didn’t play
Season statistics — 7 games, 5 starts; 117 of 180, 1,252 yards (45 longest), 4 TDs, 5 INTs, 11 sacks; 19 rushes, 38 yards, 1 TD
Up next — 1 p.m. Sunday vs. Cleveland, CBS


Out for the season

Running back Javonte Williams, Denver (torn ACL in right knee); 4 games, 4 starts; 47 carries, 204 yards (4.3 average, 17 longest); 16 catches on 22 targets, 76 yards (4.8 average, 13 longest)


Just off injured reserve

Running back Ty Chandler, Minnesota, broken thumb (2 games, 1 special-team assist); although off IR, wasn’t active this week


On injured reserve

Offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu, New York Giants, neck injury (10 games, 2 starts; 245 offensive snaps, 136 special-teams snaps)
Linebacker Cole Holcomb, Washington, foot injury (7 games, 7 starts; 37 tackles, 32 assists)
Defensive end Robert Quinn, Philadelphia, knee injury (12 games, 7 starts; 8 tackles (1 for a loss), 2 assists, 1 sack)


On practice squads

Fullback Jake Bargas, Miami Dolphins (signed Nov. 9; released in camp first by Vikings, then by Bears)
Defensive tackle Aaron Crawford, New York Giants (signed Nov. 9; Ravens released him during training cap)
Defensive back Myles Dorn, Minnesota Vikings (5 games, 1 tackle, 1 special-teams tackle)
Cornerback Kyler McMichael, Buffalo Bills
Linebacker Chazz Surratt, New York Jets (released by Minnesota)


Signed to practice squads, then released

Wide receiver Dazz Newsome, Kansas City (released earlier in camp by Chicago)


Released during camp and unsigned

Linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel, Denver (earlier by San Francisco)
Wide receiver Austin Proehl, New York Giants
Offensive tackle Jordan Tucker, Pittsburgh

Released from injured reserve with settlement

Tight end Bug Howard, Tampa Bay


Released after Week 3

Running back Antonio Williams, New York Giants



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