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Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and the sudden emergence of a Falcons ground game

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After running their record to 3-0, the Falcons have to stop and thank a ground game that has been a key to the team's success through the first three weeks.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After Devonta Freeman started the season with a couple of quiet weeks, it was fair to wonder how he'd fare against a stout Dallas Cowboys run defense in Week 3, especially because he would be carrying the load alone with Tevin Coleman sidelined. Instead, Freeman obliterated the Dallas defense, and the Falcons suddenly look like a team with legitimate offensive balance for the first time since...maybe 2011?

Freeman's big day was unquestionably the key to victory for Atlanta against the Cowboys, with 30 carries, 141 yards, and three touchdowns. This was a coming out party for the second year back, who had shown flashes in his young career, but had never managed to string an effort like this together. He ran hard, showed good vision, and displayed power and speed I legitimately had not seen from him thus far outside of random bursts from game to game. When you consider that the injured Coleman had also shown effectiveness thus far, the Falcons are going to have to figure out how to divvy up carries between two very talented young backs, and that's a problem I think they'll welcome when Coleman returns. For now, they can feel great about Freeman carrying the load.

Let's not forget to give the run blocking legitimate kudos. The motley line of Jake Matthews, Andy Levitre, Mike Person, Chris Chester, and Ryan Schraeder had some upside coming into the season, but I was not at all convinced they'd be able to spring Freeman and Coleman. Color me surprised and a little abashed for my doubts, because they opened big holes for Freeman all day, and he took advantage. Patrick DiMarco was also instrumental, throwing several key blocks to help Freeman out.

We'll be talking about Freeman and the ground game a lot over the next few days, but suffice to say it's nice to be able to celebrate a dominant effort on the ground for a change. This is a new era for the Falcons in so many ways, and the emergence of a quality ground game is an unexpected surprise that may drive them to heights we didn't dare dream of before the season began. A salute to Freeman, the line, and DiMarco, and a game ball to Freeman.