Falcons’ Freeman tears up Texans
ATLANTA— Devonta Freeman just wanted a chance. He’s sure taking advantage of it. Dazzling as both a runner and a receiver, Freeman had another three-touchdown game for the Atlanta Falcons, who remained unbeaten with a 48-21 rout of the hapless Houston Texans on Sunday.
“Opportunity is everything,” the second-year running back said.
Taking over as the starter after rookie Tevin Coleman sustained a rib injury in Week 2, Freeman has six TDs in the past two games and an NFL-leading seven for the season.
Against the Texans, he scored on runs of16, 23 and six yards and set up another touchdown with a 44-yard reception.
Freeman played sparingly as a rookie and missed all four pre-season games with a hamstring injury. Coleman got the starting job, while Freeman remained in a backup role.
Hard to see Freeman going back to the bench now.
“I’ve always believed in myself,” Freeman said. “But it’s hard to get a feel when you’re not playing. I have to get in a rhythm, and then the confidence comes.”
The Falcons are 4-0 for only the fourth time in franchise history. They won each of their first three games under new coach Dan Quinn by rallying from fourth-quarter deficits, but this one was over much sooner.
Nothing went right for the Texans (1-3). Quarterback Ryan Mallett had an awful day and was replaced by Brian Hoyer after the Falcons built a 42-0 lead.
Running back Arian Foster made his season debut after tearing his groin early in training camp, but he couldn’t find any room to run. In fact, the veteran had the ball knocked out of his hands by one of his own teammates, leading to a Falcons touchdown.
Freeman rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries and hauled in five passes for 81 yards. It didn’t even matter that Julio Jones was finally held in check, catching only four passes for 38 yards. Leonard Hankerson was Matt Ryan’s favourite target, with six catches for 103 yards, including a touchdown. Ryan was 19 of 27 for 256 yards. Mallett’s second pass was deflected and picked off by defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, the Falcons taking over at their 46. Freeman took a short pass 24 yards, then darted through a huge hole on the next play for his first TD. The rout was on. “We’ve got to run the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball,” said Mallett, who threw numerous passes behind his intended receivers.
“Every phase of the game, we’ve got to do better.”