After three crunch time victories in the opening three weeks, the Atlanta Falcons turned up the heat in a blowout victory over the Houston Texans, winning 42-21.
Devonta Freeman was the star of the show on offense once again, rushing 14 times for 68 yards and three touchdowns. He added five catches for 81 yards to ensure he will be the starting running back when rookie Tevin Coleman returns from his ribs injury.
Through three games, the Falcons had been strong on all sides of the ball without the consistency. Not in this game, though. This was a dominant performance all the way through.
Matt Ryan? Reliable as ever. He completed 19 of 27 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown, before being pulled late in the game when it was over. Julio Jones? It was a quiet day by his standards, but he did what he needed to with four catches for 38 yards.
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But what about the other receivers, particularly Leonard Hankerson? The free agent acquisition caught six passes for 103 yards and a touchdown, with an important 55-yard reception on third down which set up Freeman’s third score.
There were some concerns heading into this game, particularly how the offensive line would hold up against J.J. Watt and a dominant defensive line. Well, they did lay two sacks on Ryan, but that was about as good as it got for the Texans.
Arian Foster suited up for the first time in 2015 in this one, but he had nowhere to go against this defense, rushing eight times for 10 yards and fumbling it once. A costly turnover for Houston, and a common theme of this game. His fumble was recovered by Desmond Trufant for a touchdown, and Trufant would recover another fumble two Texans’ possessions later. Ryan Mallett was picked off by Jonathan Babineaux early in the first.
Dan Quinn will be delighted with this performance. The Falcons have shown their ability to win games in crunch time late on. But now they have given us all a complete performance, dominating throughout to blow out the Texans and go 4-0.
Next up, a home game with Washington.