The Atlanta Falcons suffered two major losses to the running back rotation on Sunday afternoon. Backup Ito Smith suffered what appeared to be a head and neck injury during the early portions of the game. Starter Devonta Freeman, on the other hand, was ejected after throwing a punch at Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
On the play in question, quarterback Matt Ryan threw a pass at wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. However, the ball bounced off his hands and was intercepted by linebacker Cory Littleton. Donald and Freeman grappled for an extended period of time as frustrations continued to mount until Freeman ultimately threw a punch at his opponent.
Prior to the punch, it became clear that there was a significant difference in size between the 6-foot-1-inch Donald and the 5-foot-9-inch Freeman. The Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle easily lifted his foe off the ground and carried him backward.
Following the referees restoring some manner of composure, the Rams took advantage of the field position and the Ryan interception. Quarterback Jared Goff ran in for a touchdown and increased the lead to 27-3. Freeman finished his day with 19 rushing yards on seven attempts and two receptions for six yards.
Sitting at 1-5 on the season, the Atlanta Falcons had hopes of getting back on the winning track with a home game against the similarly struggling Rams. However, the game did not play out as expected as the Georgia-based franchise fell into a 20-3 deficit in the third quarter.
Following the Goff touchdown run, the situation grew even worse in Atlanta as a surprising season of losses continued. Despite Ryan playing well each and every week, this team has been unable to stop opposing offenses while the running game has been less effective overall.
With Tevin Coleman no longer in the building following his departure to San Francisco, the belief was that a healthy Freeman and the backup in Smith would be a capable one-two punch for the Falcons, but this certainly has not been the case in 2019. Freeman has fewer than 300 yards rushing on the season and has not scored a touchdown on the ground. This ejection for punching is just another moment for the franchise that put head coach Dan Quinn's future in doubt.
Photo Credit: Mark Brown/Getty
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