Atlanta Falcons: Devonta Freeman tops report card after win


Enjoy your day, because the Atlanta Falcons are 3-0. Playing the third NFC East opponent in as many weeks, the Falcons rallied from 11 points down at halftime to beat the Dallas Cowboys 39-28 at AT&T Stadium. Here’s the report card from the excellent comeback victory.

Quarterback: A

Matt Ryan had his best performance of the year, completing 24 of his 36 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. Ryan found his favorite target Julio Jones often, and he proved how dangerous a passer he can be with good protection. Matty Ice led the offense brilliantly and made it look easy in the second half. With Ryan under center, the Falcons always have a chance.

Running backs: A+

What a way to make a statement, Devonta Freeman. With rookie running back Tevin Coleman out with a ribs injury, Freeman stepped up and lit up the Cowboys defense, which was ranked first against the run entering the game. The second-year man proved he can be a workhorse back, carrying the football 30 times for 141 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught five passes for 52 yards in a career-best performance.

Wide receivers: A

When Freeman wasn’t carving up the defense on the ground, Julio Jones was burning them deep in the passing game. Jones set himself apart from every other wide receiver in the league with another breathtaking display, catching 12 passes for 164 yards and two scores. The Falcons pounded the rock with Freeman and then opened up the passing lanes with the play-action. Give Jones half a chance and he will turn it into something big.

Leonard Hankerson caught three passes for 45 yards, but Roddy White went without a catch for the second straight week.

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Tight ends: C

Levine Toilolo made a key catch on a two-point conversion to pull the Falcons within three points in the second half. Jacob Tamme made a catch for eight yards, although he left the game with a possible concussion.

Offensive line: A

This was easily the best performance of the season by the offensive line. The pass protection was good, allowing just one sack and six pressures. The run blocking was even better. Tackles Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder helped open up running lanes well, and the ground game averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Although not a member of the offensive line, fullback Patrick DiMarco deserves a lot of credit for his run blocking.

Defensive line: B-

It was a story of two halves for the defensive line. In the first half, they couldn’t put a foot right as the Cowboys offensive line and running back Joseph Randle dominated, but a flip was switched in the second half and the Falcons held them to minus-4 rushing yards in the final two quarters. Vic Beasley Jr. came up with a key sack on Brandon Weeden, and Adrian Clayborn also registered a sack.

Linebackers: C

Paul Worrilow struggled to stop the run in the first half, and missed tackles were a concern among the linebackers. Worrilow missed one, as did Justin Durant. But Durant led the team in tackles against his former team and they performed better in the second half.

Secondary: B

The secondary didn’t get tested deep too often by Weeden, and William Moore made his second interception of the season. Ricardo Allen missed three tackles which was concerning, but overall it was a decent performance from the defensive backfield.

Special teams: A

Matt Bryant and Matt Bosher made it look easy once again. Bryant connected on a 32-yard field goal and converted all four PATs, and Bosher piled up 205 yards from his four punts, averaging 51.2 per punt. This was key in the field position battle, particularly against a backup quarterback. Bosher leads the NFL in punting average (54.5).

Next: Atlanta Falcons fantasy outlook entering Week 4