The Atlanta Falcons proved that experience matters as Matt Ryan and the Falcons upset the Los Angeles Rams, 26-13, in the NFC Wild Card Game at the Coliseum on Saturday night.
Atlanta committed no turnovers compared to the Rams two fumbles on special teams, and the Falcons dominated the time of possession, proving that the best way to beat the best scoring offense in the NFL this season is to keep them off the field.
Here's the breakdown of the game:
Jared Goff looked like a deer in the headlights for much of the first quarter.
The Rams defense, affectionately known as the "Mob Squad," looked rested and spry on defense as they put constant pressure on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Disaster struck early in the first quarter when a punt by Matt Bosher bounced off the foot of Rams cornerback Blake Countess and was recovered by the Falcons on the L.A. 17-yard-line.
Matt Bryant converted the field goal three plays later and the Falcons jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.
Bryant converted a 51-yard field goal on the Falcons next possession as Atlanta took a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Pro-Bowl returner Pharoh Cooper fumbled the ball, giving the Falcons the ball on the Rams 31-yard line.
The Falcons wasted no time capitalizing on the turnover as Devonta Freeman punched the ball in from 3-yards out and Atlanta took a 13-0 lead.
The Rams offense finally got rolling at the end of the second quarter as head coach and play caller, Sean McVay started to feed the ball to MVP candidate Todd Gurley.
Gurley busted one down the sidelines for a 26-yard gain, and Goff found rookie receiver, Cooper Kupp, a few plays later for the Rams first score of the game.
The Rams defense stepped up on the Falcons final possession of the first half, as they recorded back-to-back sacks on Ryan, handing the ball back to the offense for one final drive for the Rams.
Goff found Robert Woods for a 38-yard gain, and Sam Ficken made a 35-yard field goal just before the half to cut the Falcons lead to 13-10 at the break.
10 of the 13 points scored by the Falcons were off turnovers.
Snoop Dogg performed.
The Falcons started the second half with a long, clock grinding drive that took 8:15 off the game clock. However, the Rams defense kept Atlanta to a 25-yard field goal by Bryant as the Falcons took a 16-10 lead.
After forcing the Rams to punt on their next possession, the Falcons once again marched down the field with a long drive, and Bryant nailed a 54-yard field goal to give Atlanta a commanding 19-10 lead.
The Rams started the final quarter of the game with a nice drive, but were unable to find the end zone, settling for a 32-yard field goal by rookie Sam Ficken.
The reigning NFC Champion Falcons put the final nail in the Rams playoff dreams after Ryan found Mohamed Sanu for a 53-yard catch and run, and then capped the drive off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones.
The Rams thought they had a touchdown with just over two minutes remaining in the game, but after a review, tight end Tyler Higbee did not maintain posession in the endzone and the Rams turned the ball over on downs.
Final: 26-13 Falcons
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