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Devonta Freeman's absence may have been the difference Sunday for Falcons

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

When Devonta Freeman exited in the first quarter with a potential concussion, leaving behind a three carry, 43 yard day, the Falcons' offense was doomed. We just didn't know it yet.

With Freeman out, Tevin Coleman and Terron Ward combined for 19 carries and 50 yards, plus three catches for 16 yards, all of which went to Ward. I've been a big proponent for Coleman getting more involved in the offense, but Freeman is just a better runner and pass catcher right now, and Coleman's fumble was truly back-breaking.

It's fair to say that the offense isn't as stagnant with Freeman in the game, and considering the Falcons lost by a field goal, I don't think it's excuse-mongering to say Atlanta was likely to win with their feature back in the game. Freeman's huge carry to open up the game was proof enough of that, I think, and we're left wondering what might have been.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not apologizing for the Falcons, who were lousy offensively in so many ways that the Falcons would likely only have managed a narrow win had Freeman been able to stay in. When Freeman either isn't running well or isn't in the game, though, Atlanta's a one-dimensional team that can't afford Matt Ryan's woes with accuracy or his receiver's ongoing issues with getting open and not dropping passes. If Freeman's out against Minnesota, I go from doubting their chances of winning to being pretty sure they won't, so his status will be worth monitoring this week.

Stay tuned for injury updates tonight and in the days ahead.