EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Whenever he touches the ball these days, Antone Smith is expected to score.
The diminutive Atlanta Falcons running back entered Sunday's game against the Giants with three touchdowns in just 13 touches. His 48-yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4 was highlighted on the weekly media guide going into the Giants game.
So what did Smith do? He simply scored his fourth explosive touchdown on a 74-yard, catch-and-run during the third quarter of Sunday's 30-20 loss. Smith's four touchdowns this season -- a 48-yard rush, and 38-yard rush, a 54-yard catch-and-run, and the 74-yarder Sunday --- have averaged 53.5 yards. And he has been battling a right hamstring issue since the start of the season, too.
Smith had four touches total against the Giants.
"We need to have more plays designed for Antone Smith," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "When he touches the ball, he makes plays. He did another fine job. We caught them in Cover Zero and it was a great throw by Matt (Ryan), getting the ball out of hands. And in zero, there is no defensive depth, and he just outran everybody.
"I know everybody likes Antone. We like Antone a whole lot as well. We have to make sure that we get our playmakers the ball."
Coach Smith has talked about getting the speedy Smith more touches for a while now, but it hasn't exactly come to fruition. Smith, previously known more as a special teams ace, had touchdown runs of 50 and 38 yards last season despite having only seven touches for the entire season. He now has six touchdowns in 25 career touches, with 24 touches over his past 16 games.
A four-back running back rotation has limited Smith's plays this season. Regardless, the Falcons would be wise to utilize his explosive ability more often, even if that means taking snaps away from one of the other three running backs -- Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, and rookie Devonta Freeman. Smith played 11 offensive snaps against the Giants compared to 26 for Jackson, 19 for Rodgers, and 16 for Freeman.
"That's up to the coaches when they put those guys in," Ryan said. "I think Dirk (Koetter) -- I've said it all along -- I think Dirk does a great job of scheming for all of our guys to get involved.
"Antone made a huge play today for us at a critical time. I thought it was going to give us some momentum going into that fourth quarter. But, I mean, his production speaks for itself. He has played really well for us this year."