atlrus - 2:17 pm on May 16, 2013 (gmt 0)
second, it's my belief that whatever causes the target page not to rank (penguin or something else) has to do with inbound links and not on page factors. Something like: if (page) has x% of inbound links using (target keyword) as the anchor text then (page) will not rank for (target keyword).
I doubt that, since in your case: if (page) has x% of inbound links using (target keyword) as the anchor text then (page) will not rank for (anything)
I would understand if your home page did not rank for "widget example", but ranked for "discount widget example", but you say that's not the case.
In your case page rank flows:
link>home page>inner pages
so if the home page is taken out of the equation because of the links, there would be nothing to pass juice to the inner pages and they would certainly not rank 1 page on 50 words alone for "widget example", assuming it's not something that returns only 10 sites :)