January 6, 2018
Falcons 26 / Rams 13
The Falcon win the coin toss and defer….as expected. Matt Bosher starts out with a touchback. The first play, also as expected, is a run by local boy (to Georgia) Todd Gurley for a gain of 4 yards. The Rams set a screen, pass to Gurley and Deion Jones was on the edge almost intercepting the ball. From the shotgun, under great pressure, Jared Goff runs for a few yards, then slides before Vic Beasley can hit him. Beasley was credited with the sack.
Andre Roberts allows the punt to drop behind him and roll to the 6-yard line. A fake handoff, then an incomplete pass to Mohamed Sanu begins the Falcons drive. Matt Ryan is running for his life in the end zone, while Jake Matthews holds up Aaron Donald long enough for Ryan to throw the ball away. Ryan completes a pass to Julio Jones, but it is 4 yards short of the first down. Bosher has a good punt from his end zone and the Rams begin at their own 47.
The first play, again, is Gurley running for 8 yards, then heading out of bounds. Without a huddle, a pass to Cooper Kupp falls incomplete. On 3rd down, Goff is SACKED by Takk McKinley! Welcome back to Cali! The punt falls at the 6 again, but Roberts catches this one and returns to the 10, so basically where the Falcons were pre-punt.
This drive starts with a handoff to Devonta Freeman, who is caught in the backfield for a 3-yard loss. Ryan drops back, then chooses to run and gets to the 11. Nearly sacked, Ryan stands in there, behind a great block by Ben Garland, and passes to Freeman who is short of the first down marker.
Bosher punts again, Pharoh Cooper calls for the fair catch, muffs it, the now active Nick Williams, shoves Kupp to ensure he doesn’t get to the ball. And Le’Roy Reynolds recovers the fumble and gives the offense excellent field position.
The Falcons offense begins in the red zone, at the 17. Tevin Coleman is in the backfield and gets the call, running to the left side and gains 3 yards. Ryan fakes the handoff then overthrows Sanu in the end zone. On 3rd down, Ryan scrambles for a few yards, then Matt Bryant comes out for the 29-yard field goal. With 7:12 left in the first quarter, the Falcons lead 3 – 0.
Bosher’s kickoff is 61 yards to Cooper where Damontae Kazee was called for a foul, moving the ball to the 32. Now Brooks Reed jumps and gives the Rams an extra 5 yards. The first, first down of the game is on short yardage. Brian Poole makes a good short stop on Gurley. Second and 7, without a huddle, Goff goes play action, perfect pass to Sammy Watkins is even more perfectly defended by Robert Alford, as he tips the ball back, volleyballesq. Desmond Trufant has good coverage on Kupp to knock the ball out. And just like that, there is another punt to Roberts.
Freeman takes the ball from the 10 up to the 14. Freeman gets the call again, for another 3 yards. With major pressure, Ryan moves up in the middle of the pocket and passes up to Sanu for the first Falcons first down of the game, with 3:30 to go in the quarter. Now, a 27-yard pass to Julio Jones, who stopped and came back for the catch, completely losing the defender. Now at the 50, Jones gets the ball on the end around and gains 13 yards. Coleman gets the call and gains 4 yards around the far ride side. Ryan, from the shotgun, fakes to Coleman and passes to Sanu who cannot hold onto the ball. Third down from the 33, Ryan passes short to Freeman, who cannot pull the ball in and Bryant comes on for a 51-yard field goal.
On the next kickoff, Cooper is stopped by Kazee, (making up for that penalty) who strips the ball, and it is recovered by Kemal Ishmael and the Falcons have the ball at the 32. Freeman runs up the middle for 2 yards, then along the left side for a gain of 6 as the quarter comes to a close.
From the 24-yard line with 2 yards to go, Ryan throws to Sanu who gains 6 yards and the 1st down. Freeman runs for no gain. Freeman and Coleman are both in and split as the pass goes to Coleman on the left side, for a gain of 6 yards. Ryan fires over the middle for Austin Hooper’s first catch of the day, right at the first down marker. Now a 1st and goal from the 7, Ryan passes short to Julio, who forces his way for 4 yards. With the play clock running out, the Rams call a time out. Freeman scores the touchdown, with teammate Alex Mack, literally, pulling him in. Both of them had their feet continuing to move and fight for ground. I wonder if they both get a ½ touchdown?!? Early in the 2nd quarter, it is 13/0, Falcons.
Bosher’s kickoff is into the end zone again, Cooper brings it out to the 24. Gurley gets no gain on the first down. Goff passes to Robert Woods for the first down. Gurley slips in the backfield losing 2 yards. Then, Gurley drops the pass from Goff. With Adrian Clayborn coming quickly around the backside, Goff gets the ball off to Woods. Rocky is called for a penalty, but the Rams take the first down instead. Grady Jarrett is applying great pressure in the backfield forcing an errant pass by Goff. Still near the 50, on 2nd down, Goff hands off to Gurley, who is immediately stopped by Debo in the middle for a one-yard gain. Team pressure causes a quick, low pass by Goff as De’Vondre Campbell lays him out. Another punt to Roberts, who fair catches at the 13.
Ryan is in the shotgun and immediately throws a first down to Sanu. Coleman spins off defenders a couple of times to gain 2 yards. Freeman comes back in as Ryan throws to Hooper for a 5-yard gain. Ryan is sacked at the 23-yard line by Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers, coming in from both sides. Bosher punts 55 yards to the 22-yard line where Cooper is swarmed and the Rams will begin at their own 21.
The Rams begin this drive with a Gurley carry and gain of 4 yards, stopped by Beasley. Another handoff to Gurley, who finds a seam to the left for a huge gain, which is added onto due to a hit out of bounds by Ricardo Allen. With nearly 5 minutes to the half, the Rams are at the Falcons 36. Goff goes deep for Woods who is covered by Rocky, who is in perfect position to cause the incompletion. A pass to a sliding Kupp goes for a first down. Poole makes another big open field tackle on Woods for a short gain. Malcolm Brown runs into a red wall up the middle for a short gain, forcing a 3rd and 5. Goff finds Kupp for the touchdown over Poole.
The Falcons start at their own 10, and Coleman gets the call for a 6-yard gain. Julio makes the first down catch along the sideline, taking us to the 2-minute warning. Freeman gets 4 yards, then Ryan drops back and slips on the new field as Rams defenders fall on him for a 10-yard sack. The Rams call a time out. Ryan goes left and is taken down again, this time by Morgan Fox who shoved Ryan Schraeder like a ragdoll. Another Bosher punt to Cooper, who Kazee lays out again. A holding penalty is called on the Rams during the return and they begin at their own 14.
Goff comes out throwing to Kupp who is stopped after 5 yards by Debo. Another pass to Kupp for 10 yards and is quickly stopped by Keanu Neal. Goff finds Woods for another 8 yards and he is run out of bounds. Beldi Wrey-Wilson is called for a PI and the Rams get the ball across the 50. Then Goff goes deep to Woods for a 48-yard gain over Trufant. With 18 seconds to the half, the Rams are on the 7-yard line. Goff throws behind Gurley, who still hauls it in at the 3-yard line. The referees are reviewing the catch…..it is overturned, there are now 14 seconds on the clock with a 2nd and goal from the 7. Goff is being chased out of bounds by Campbell as a flag comes out on the offense, a lineman holding Takk. The penalty forces a 35-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining in the half.
Roberts takes the touchback out of the back of the end zone and the offense kneels down going into the locker room at the half Falcons 13/Rams 10, the Falcons set to receive the ball.
The second half begins with a Roberts return up to the 16. Freeman gets the first run of the 2nd half and gains a yard. Next, Freeman breaks away for a 21-yard gain behind a great block by Mack and Derrick Coleman. Ryan is hit as he throws to Julio for an incompletion. T. Coleman gets the ball for a short gain forcing a 3rd and 9. Ryan throws a short pass to Coleman who breaks out and kicks his speed and goes for 14 yards. The Rams were offsides, giving the Falcons a 1st and 5 at the Rams 40. A missed tackle on Freeman allows him to gain 11 yards and another first down. Free was nearly down, maintained his balance and popped back up to get the first. Now, in the no huddle, Ryan hands off to Freeman for another 4 yards, continuing to run on the right side. Ryan hands to Freeman again, who pushes through the middle to force a 3rd and 1. Freeman is out and Coleman is in and gets the call, but cannot manage the first down. At the 20, the offense lines up quickly, Garland goes low for the block and Ryan forces his way to a first down. Coleman stays in and gains a quick 5 yards. Coleman goes again for another 6 yards and a 1st and goal. Freeman returns and runs for no gain, followed by a pass to Julio for 2 yards. The 3rd and goal pass from Ryan to Hooper falls incomplete, and Bryant returns to the field for a 25-yard field goal.
Bosher kicks to the 4-yard line and Cooper returns it to the 30. Goff throws 2 incomplete passes in a row, then finds Woods just over the hands of Trufant, for a gain of 25 yards….note that THE BACK of Jarrett’s jersey was being held, or there would have been another sack. Gurley carries for 3 yards. Then Goff goes high for Woods and Tru stays right with him in the air and knocks the ball out in perfect timing. Gurley drops the next path, likely due to seeing Debo coming in hard. This forces another punt that Roberts fair catches at the 19.
The Falcons offense starts with an incomplete pass to Hooper, followed by a first down to Julio. Mack lays out Joyner to ensure Ryan has time to complete that pass. Freeman dives forward for 3 yards. Another first down pass to Julio, who shoves his way for a full 16-yard gain. Ryan hands off to Coleman who gains 6 yards, then 3 yards behind the right side. The first pass to Justin Hardy goes for 2 yards as he slips on the field. Coleman runs to the left side for a short gain. The Rams are starting to focus their defense to stop the run. On the 3rd down, Troy Hill has great defense of the pass to Sanu to knock it lose. Again, Bryant kicks a 54-yard field like it is nothing.
Bosher’s kick is a touchback, Cooper runs it out, is nailed again, fumbles, but was called down as Ishmael fights hard for the ball. Gurley tries to get the Rams 2nd drive of the half started, but is quickly met by Debo, 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The defense has been on the sideline for a nice rest again and are fired up from that almost fumble.
The fourth quarter begins with a 2nd and 15 for the Rams. Goff comes out throwing behind Kupp. On 3rd down, Takk is blocked in the back, Beasley is held in a horse collar, so Goff is able to complete the pass to Woods for a first down, who is taken down hard by Campbell. Gurley gets 14 yards and brought down by Campbell and Debo. Then a huge run finally brought down by Rico after a 33-yard gain. Gurley goes up the middle for a short 3. The next play, Goff gets to meet Campbell again, for the 3rd sack of the day. On 3rd and 14, Goff, from the shot gun, hands to Brown who is stopped by Kiki forcing a 32-yard field goal. With just under 11 minutes to go, the Falcons lead 19/13.
Roberts takes the kickoff at the 10-yard line and goes out of bounds at the 17. A pass to Julio goes for another first down. Double Coleman’s in the backfield, and Tevin catches the pass, slips, but still manages an 8-yard gain, then is knocked out for a 1-yard loss. Ryan starts to run, then sees an open Hooper just across the first down line. Freeman is way in the backfield when he gets the ball, is immediately stopped by Donald for a 3-yard loss. Ryan passes to Sanu, as he picks up blockers, crosses the field and takes the ball 53 yards! First and 10 on the Rams 10. Freeman gets the call and goes around the right corner for a couple of yards. A fake to Freeman, and Julio gets the touchdown on the front corner of the end zone, giving the Falcons the 26/13 lead.
Bosher’s kick falls at the 3-yard line, Cooper quickly runs out of bounds. Kupp catches a quick first down pass. Then Goff throws a low incompletion. Woods has a false start causing a 2nd and 15. Goff drops back and hits his tight end as Kiki slides on the field, Woods blocks Campbell in the head, called for a personal foul on a blindside block (4 officials called this), causing a 2nd and 19. Goff then throws to a wide open Watkins at the 50. Woods makes a first down reception along the sideline. Kupp gets the next pass and is quickly stopped by Debo for a 5-yard gain. A short pass to Gerald Everett is stopped and popped back by Tru. Gurley goes past the 1 yard needed for several yards and the first down at the 20. Goff finds Gurley in the open field, again, tackled by Poole after a 3-yard gain. Neal makes the next stop at the line forcing a 3rd and 7. Kiki and Debo combine for the next stop for 2 yards short. The Rams immediately go for it on a pass to Woods at the sideline. He bobbles the ball as he is falling out of bounds for the catch. They quickly snap the ball to ensure no review or challenge. A quick run to the left for a few yards. With 2:22 to go and a 2nd and goal from the 5, Goff over throws Woods in the end zone. Goff then finds Tyler Higbee in the end zone just over Neal. The ruling of “touchdown” was reviewed and overturned as the ball hit the ground. It’s a 4th down on the 5-yard line. Gurley is back in, Goff in the shotgun, as Grady and Vic swarm to Goff, the pass to Watkins is knocked out by Debo.
The Falcons take over on downs. Seconds over 2 minutes to go, on their own 5-yard line, up by 13, the Rams have all 3 time outs. Freeman gets the first carry and 3 yards. The 2-minute warning time out.
After the 2-minute warning, Ryan hands to Coleman who gains another 3 yards and the Rams take a time out. On 3rd and 3, behind Dontari Poe, Coleman gains no yards and Bosher returns to punt.
Bosher’s punt is nearly blocked, Cooper bobbles the catch allowing Ish and Reynolds time to get to him and lay him out again. Goff goes immediately to the end zone to Watkins who is blanketed by Rocky in great coverage. Goff is forced out of the pocket by Poe and Jarrett and throws out of bounds. A quick pass up to Gurley gains 4 yards and is brought down by Wrey-Wilson. On 4th down, the Rams call their final time out with 74 seconds remaining. Goff throws incomplete to Woods and is nearly intercepted by Wreh-Wilson.
Falcon fans sigh in relief as the team kneels down twice and prepare to head to Philadelphia for the next round at 4:35 ET on Saturday.
Iron Falcon: Nearly weekly deserved, Matt Bryant – another 4 field goals, 29, 51, 25, and 54 this week. Damontae Kazee and Kemal Ishmael for their consistent kick coverage, causing and recovering fumbles, turning the field for the offense and lighting up the team.
Pictures Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons