Devonta Freeman top of report card as Falcons beat Redskins
The Falcons won, but they did so in ugly fashion. Just a week after tearing apart the Texans, Dan Quinn’s team needed overtime to beat the stubborn Redskins. Nonetheless, it’s another win that moves the Falcons to 5-0 with a short week coming up. Here’s the report card from the win.
This was a rare off day for Matt Ryan. He went 24-of-42 for 254 yards, no touchdowns and two picks. Drives stalled and he couldn’t find a rhythm, particularly in the first half. He did lead his team on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter to take the lead in typical Matty Ice fashion.
On that drive, what looked like a perfectly legitimate touchdown pass to Devonta Freeman was ruled out. Nonetheless, it was a poor day at the office for a player the caliber of Ryan.
Running backs: A+
Devonta Freeman is red hot right now, and he continues to prove his early success this season was no fluke. Up against the No. 2 run defense? No problem. Freeman was once again the workhorse, carrying the football 27 times for 153 yards and a touchdown.
Tevin Coleman returned from a ribs injury but only got two carries. Expect the rookie to become a bigger piece on this offense in the coming weeks.
Wide receivers: C-
Julio Jones was clearly limited with a hamstring issue, but he fought through it making five catches for 67 yards. Leonard Hankerson suffered a rib injury and was limited to just one catch, and Roddy White was quiet again. However, although he did only make two catches, one came in the clutch on a crucial fourth down.
A quiet day for the receivers in general, but the biggest concern is with the health of Jones and Hankerson. They need to get back on a short week.
Oct 11, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) celebrates a recovered fumble for a touchdown with wide receiver Roddy White (84) in the fourth quarter of their game against the Washington Redskins at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 25-19 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Tight ends: A
Jacob Tamme was the surprising reception leader, making eight catches for 94 yards. His performance in the receiving game can’t go unnoticed. Levine Toilolo was quiet again.
Offensive line: B
The offensive line has made some serious strides already this season, but this was always going to be a tough matchup. Despite allowing three sacks and 13 hurries on Ryan, the run blocking was solid again which helped Freeman have another huge game.
Defensive line: A
When the offense struggles, you need the defense to step up. The line had a good day, shutting down the Redskins’ No. 1 ranked run game, allowing just 51 yards on the ground. The defensive line combined for three quarterback hits and seven hurries, getting good pressure on Kirk Cousins.
Nathan Stupar had another good performance, registering the Falcons’ one sack on Cousins. Paul Worrilow had a nice game stuffing the run, and Kroy Biermann was also strong against the rush. There was plenty of encouraging play from the linebackers. Brooks Reed continues to work his way back in from a groin injury, and the unit was without Justin Durant.
Not a whole lot to write home about for the secondary, although Robert Alford made two big plays. Alford picked off Cousins in overtime and returned it for a touchdown, sealing the game for Atlanta. When Cousins threw Alford’s way, he had a passer rating of 0.7.
Special teams: F
Everyone is allowed a bad day, and it was exactly that for Matt Bryant. Normally so routine with his field goals, Bryant saw a 38- and 48-yard attempt hit the uprights, but he did connect with his other two and one PAT. Matt Bosher nailed his one punt for 51 yards.
The kickoff coverage allowed an average of 26.5 yards per return, although it was a small sample size of just two. Bryant’s errors scores the unit a poor grade, but expect him to bounce back against New Orleans.
Next: Are the Falcons ready for the Saints?