Falcons’ Caleb Huntley helped to power rushing attack

Falcons running back Caleb Huntley was at his Airbnb when he got the call on his cellphone Saturday.

Coach Arthur Smith was calling to inform him that he’d been promoted to the 53-man roster for Sunday’s game against the Browns.

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Huntley, who played at Locust Grove High and Ball State, came off the bench to help power the Falcons to a 23-20 win over the Browns at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“When I went in the first play, I already had that chip on my shoulder to do whatever I need to do to get the team on the right foot, because like I said before, we were kind of stifled, but once I got in there I was like, ‘OK, let’s go,’” Huntley said. “We’ve got to do this, we’ve got to get this done, and after those couple of runs, I just got happy and stayed with it.”

Running back Cordarrelle Patterson started the game for the Falcons. It was Huntley, Tyler Allgeier and Avery Williams who finished it.

Huntley played against the Rams and had one carry for 3 yards. He finished with 10 carries for 56 yards, including a long of 14 yards in Sunday’s win, to push the Falcons to 2-2.

The Falcons had a 10-0 lead, but the Browns came back to take a 13-10 lead in the third quarter.

On the next drive, the Falcons called 10 consecutive running plays. Huntley got the call on eight of the plays, and Allgeier had two runs.

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Huntley scored a touchdown on a 5-yard run to give the Falcons back the lead, 17-13.

The tone had been set by the offensive line.

“When the line is running like that, that’s what you call being in the flow,” Smith said. “Proud of those guys. We knew it was going to be a big boy fight. Seeing the run attempts, and I always thought the team that ran the ball better today was going to win. That held true thankfully.”

Cleveland was playing without three starters along the defensive front: end Myles Garrett, tackle Taven Bryan and end Jadeveon Clowney.

“Oh, man, they were blowing them boys off the ball,” Huntley said. “I was like, ‘Man, I can go either way with this one.’ There was just a whole lot of space, and I took advantage of that.”

Huntley suspected he would be active for this game.

“I knew (Saturday), for sure,” Huntley said. “Coach called me. I was in Atlanta in my Airbnb, because I knew we had a walkthrough (Saturday), so I was just out here because it made sense instead of being on the Northside and making that commute.”

He called his mother to share the news.

“She was so excited,” Huntley said. “I’ve just been through a lot growing up, and this moment seemed like it would be forever, but you know it was finally here, so I took advantage of it.”

With Patterson slowed by a knee injury and Damien Williams on injured reserve with a rib injury, it was on the backup running backs to come through.

“(We are) jelling perfectly,” Huntley said. “We all come in every day and put our best foot forward. We have a great coach (Michael Pitre) behind who critiques us on little things to, you know, make us be a good group.”

Overall, the Falcons rushed 35 times for 202 yards.

“It takes all 11 from the receivers to the backs, to the tight ends and also up front,” Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom said. “It’s just a great team effort to go out there and be that efficient line.”

Lindstrom loved the 10-play – all runs – drive.

“It’s a great feeling, just staying on track of the downs, those guys were running hard,” Lindstrom said. “It takes all 11, and there was belief in what we do, and I think that showed.”

The linemen were getting fired up inside of the huddle with all of the run calls.

“Yeah, for sure, and I think we knew, I forget what the score was at the time, but we knew that we had to go down and put points on the board,” Lindstrom said. “Just really there was belief in the huddle, that as soon as you start stacking those, it’s easier. Every single guy had faith in what we were doing, came out and really attacked it.”

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Atlanta Falcons 2022 NFL schedule

Sept. 11: Saints 27, Falcons 26

Sept. 18: Rams 31, Falcons 27

Sept. 25 Falcons 27, Seahawks 23

Oct. 2 Falcons 23, Browns 20

Oct. 9 at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

Oct. 16 vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m.

Oct. 23 at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Oct. 30 vs. Carolina, 1 p.m.

Nov. 6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m.

Nov. 10 at Carolina, 8:15 p.m.

Nov. 20 vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.

Nov. 27 at Washington, 1 p.m.

Dec. 4 vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

BYE WEEK

Dec. 18 at New Orleans, TBD

Dec. 24 at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Jan. 1 vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.

Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD