ATLANTA, GA- The Atlanta Falcons defeated the St. Louis Rams 31-24. The game almost seemed to be out of hand by halftime with the score firmly in the Falcon’s control at 24-3. However, it seems the Falcons slow down after halftime while the Rams made all the right adjustments during the half.
By the end of the game, the Rams offensive stats looked eerily similar to the Falcons’, indicating this game may have gone to overtime if it wasn’t for Osi Umenyiora’s pick six in the second quarter. Atlanta’s total passing yards were 357 compared to the Rams 352.
With Steven Jackson exiting the game after his eight-yard touchdown catch, the Falcons ended with only 36 yards rushing on 16 attempts. St. Louis was held to 69 yards on 18 attempts while they were trying to play catch up during the second half of the game.
Same as always
As stated earlier, Jackson went out early in the first quarter with a thigh injury, so the Falcons took to the air to score the majority of their points. Bradie Ewing, Atlanta’s fullback, exited the game as he too went down with an injury after a 14-yard catch out of the backfield. Jason Snelling made an 11-yard run for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put a much needed touchdown on the scoreboard.
Julio Jones was seemingly the entire offense against the Rams on Sunday as he racked up 182 yards and a touchdown on eleven receptions. Roddy White was still hampered by his high ankle sprain but managed to get three receptions for 21 yards. Tony Gonzalez and Jacquizz Rodgers were there as mainly a safety valve for Matt Ryan as they converted 7 of 13 third downs; a stat that was vastly improved upon from last week.
The offensive line was pretty solid, except for run blocking, in the first half as Ryan had time to calmly find some of his targets down-field. During the second half there were many more pressures on the Falcon’s quarterback as the Rams ended with eight hits and two sacks on Ryan.
The Falcon’s ended with zero sacks on Bradford but they were at least in his face with six quarterback hits. What Atlanta lacked in actual pass rush they made up for with decent pass coverage. With Asante Samuel still out with a thigh injury the rookie cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford along with Robert McClain held down the fort pretty well. The team as a whole had six passes defended containing any possible threat Bradford posed with his receivers.
Undrafted rookie Joplo Bartu had a huge impact during the game with six solo tackles, two of them being for a loss. He played a crucial role in third down packages since he has the speed to keep up with running backs and tight ends coming out of the underneath routes to gain unchallenged first downs.
Some may say that Atlanta’s best defense is its offense. Well what happens when that offense becomes one of the reasons why the Falcon’s games come down to the wire? The Falcons inability to run down the clock keeps the opposing team in the game.
If these teams use their two-minute offense and Atlanta plays prevent defense to stop the big play then team’s with a quarterback that’s worth his salt can methodically drive down the field and wear down the secondary. As I said before, the Falcons hopes of making it to the post season will be there success to run in between the tackles hard and often. Hopefully Jackson’s injury will be brief because Atlanta will need him during the Miami game.