No matter how sluggish the Falcons looked in Sunday's 10-7 win over the Tennessee Titans, Freeman was consistent from the start. He recorded his third consecutive 100-yard game of the season and fourth through seven games with 116 yards on 25 carries. And Freeman would have had a lot more ground yards had his 47-yard run in the third quarter not been wiped out by wide receiver Roddy White's illegal block.
Freeman was asked what worked so well today in the running game.
"Everything," he said. "The run, the stretch, the inside zone, everything Kyle [Shanahan] called, it was just up to us to execute. That's it."
Freeman is the first Falcon to have three straight 100-yard games since Michael Turner in 2009 against New Orleans, Washington, and Carolina. Freeman has done it against the Redskins, Saints, and now the Titans.
"I've been there before," Freeman said of being so productive. "I just do what I do every week. I've never did it on the NFL level. I did it on the college level and the high school level. But I've always believed in myself that I can do anything that I want."
The Falcons should have handed Freeman the ball on a third-and-goal situation late in the fourth quarter. Instead, they went to fullback Patrick DiMarco, who got stuffed while trying to dive into the end zone. Then on fourth-and-goal, Matt Ryan's pass to a falling Jacob Tamme was tipped and intercepted, wiping out the scoring opportunity.
Freeman, who entered the game leading the league in touchdowns (10) and yards from scrimmage (801) was productive despite not getting the scoring opportunities. He allowed the Falcons to control the clock late and gave the offense some much-needed energy early on with his explosive bursts.
Ryan praised Freeman's play for the 6-1 Falcons.
"I think Devonta has played awesome, he really has, and he played awesome again today," Ryan said. "His confidence is growing every week, and I think our offensive line's confidence is growing every week. I think they've done a great job blocking for him. ... I'm really proud of him and happy with the way he's playing."
Freeman now has 931 combined yards to go with his 10 touchdowns.
What were they thinking? This has to go back to the goal-line plays mentioned above. They occurred after officials ruled Julio Jones came up short on what appeared to be a touchdown pass from Ryan. No matter the circumstances, the Falcons should have handed the ball off to Freeman rather than trying to overthink the situation and catch the Titans off guard. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has done some great things since taking over, but he probably wants those calls back.
One reason to get excited: The defense came up with two great interceptions in timely situations. One was by middle linebacker Paul Worrilow that kept the Titans from scoring a touchdown. The other was by rookie Robenson Therezie with 1:31 left to all but seal the win. There were some defensive mistakes made, but creating turnovers can help make up for it.
One reason to panic: Ryan continues to make uncharacteristic mistakes, including an interception on a screen pass to Tevin Coleman in the first half that the Titans turned into a touchdown. Ryan has to make better throws, and he knows it. Although he surpassed 30,000 career passing yards in the game, it was far from a good showing.
Fantasy watch: Jones got back into the scoring column with an 8-yard touchdown reception from Ryan in the third quarter. Jones had gone the previous three games without scoring.
Ouch: Both strong safety William Moore and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson exited the game in the first half with injuries and didn't return. Moore had a groin injury and was replaced by Kemal Ishmael, while Hankerson was sidelined with a hamstring. Moore (hand) and Hankerson (hamstring/ribs) were on the injury report leading into the game.