1. Devonta Freeman’s Missed Block
Of the Atlanta Falcons’ talented tandem of running backs, Devonta Freeman is considered to be the better pass blocker.
After Tevin Coleman left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury, Freeman replaced him and the Falcons set up in a shotgun formation on third-and-1 from their own 36-yard line.
Middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower blitzed from the right side of the Falcons’ formation and Freeman just flat-out whiffled on the block attempt.
The miss proved costly.
Hightower got to Ryan from the front side as Ryan was taking the ball back to throw, hitting the NFL MVP and forcing a fumble that was recovered at the Falcons’ 25 by defensive tackle Alan Branch.
Five plays later, New England was in the end zone on a 6-yard pass from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola and a direct snap to James White on the two-point conversion cut Atlanta’s lead to just 28-20 with 5:56 remaining in the fourth quarter.
It set the stage for a two-play sequence that was the next key.