Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Falcons' Devonta Freeman: From second-string to first-rate


Devonta Freeman, the new main man. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

These short takes are offered in conjunction with the Falcons-Redskins game column, which can be found here . The Falcons won 25-19 in overtime. They're 5-0.

1. Devonta Freeman has taken the heavy lifting from Julio Jones. With Jones clearly not himself Sunday -- he dropped at least two passes and caught only five, none in the first half -- Freeman accounted for 197 yards rushing and pass-catching. He scored the touchdown that gave the Falcons the lead with 24 seconds left in regulation after seeing an apparent touchdown at 0:51 overturned by replay. He's fast and he's strong and he has, over the past three weeks, given the Falcons a smallish approximation of Marshawn Lynch, who carried the offense of Dan Quinn's former team. It's hard to believe now, but Freeman wasn't the starter in Weeks 1 and 2, the job having been won by the rookie Tevin Coleman. Healthy again, the plan was to give Coleman some of Freeman's carries in Sunday's game. Coleman gained three yards on two rushes. Quinn said the Falcons went with "the hot hand." There are no hotter hands on this team than Freeman's.

2. Roddy White is the people's choice. After catching two passes in three weeks, the former Pro Bowler snagged two big ones Sunday. The first was a 16-yard gain early in the fourth quarter that led to the Falcons' first touchdown. (Yes, they took forever to score that first touchdown, about which more later.) The second saved the game. After Freeman's touchdown reception was nixed, the Falcons faced fourth-and-2 with 51 seconds remaining. White shook free over the middle against man coverage. The 7-yard gain was the bridge between Freeman's non-touchdown and the one that counted. And White's first catch had the Georgia Dome crowd chanting, "Rod-dy! Rod-dy!"

3. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than ... well, you know. It would be nice to say that Julio Jones' unending drive was the reason he fell on Freeman's fumble in the end zone for the Falcons' first touchdown. Nice, but inaccurate. Jones was standing and watching on the left side of the line as Freeman was stripped of the ball by defensive end Chris Baker. The ball simply got batted Julio's way. To his credit, he didn't dribble it out of bounds. But still: That was the warm smile of Dame Fortune, and it made you wonder if Somebody Up There hasn't taken a liking to these Birds.


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.