Devonta Freeman took it hard, harder than anyone would imagine.

The Atlanta Falcons running back knew he let his team down with a lost fumble at the goal line in Sunday's loss to New Orleans. It was his fourth fumble in the past three games but the first he lost to the opposition.

"Hell yeah, I was down big time because the last thing I want to do is fumble the ball," Freeman said.

A dejected Freeman needed some words of encouragement from outside the Falcons' locker room, so he turned to an old friend: Edgerrin James.

"We always talk to each other," Freeman, a Miami native, said of the four-time Pro Bowl running back and former Miami Hurricanes star. "We hang out when I'm in Miami. It's just a big brother type of relationship. You've got Uncle Luke [Luther Campbell], Edgerrin James, and then me. I go to them for advice: Uncle Luke on the business side, Edgerrin on the football side and the business side."

Freeman and James talked for 15 minutes Sunday night after Freeman and the team returned to Atlanta. James -- who ran for 12,246 yards and 80 touchdowns on 3,028 career carries -- had some fumbling issues of his own. He fumbled a career-high eight times as a rookie with the Indianapolis Colts in 1999, losing four, and he lost nine fumbles over his first two NFL seasons.