LOS ANGELES — Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons confirmed the upstart Los Angeles Rams what playoff poise is all about.
Ryan handed for 218 yards and hit Julio Jones for an Eight-yard landing with 5:48 to play, and the defending NFC champion Falcons superior from the wild-card spherical with a methodical 26-13 victory over the Rams on Saturday evening.
Devonta Freeman rushed for an early rating and Matt Bryant kicked 4 discipline objectives for the Falcons (11-6), who spoiled the Rams’ first playoff recreation in 13 years whereas displaying off the postseason poise they earned from final season’s journey to the Tremendous Bowl.
“This recreation’s form of the way in which our season’s been, robust,” Ryan mentioned. “We needed to grind it out. Protection performed rather well. Offensively, we’re going towards an ideal protection tonight. We ran the soccer, our guys performed up entrance so laborious, after which within the second half we began to get it going a bit bit. So, I am simply happy with it.”
Atlanta by no means trailed on the Coliseum whereas successful playoff video games in consecutive seasons for the primary time in franchise historical past.
The Falcons superior to face the top-seeded Eagles on Jan. 13 in Philadelphia.
“Does not matter the place we’re going, we’re going,” Ryan mentioned. “And that is probably the most thrilling half.”
Jones caught 9 passes for 94 yards as Atlanta’s offense chewed up the clock and discipline place. The Falcons jumped to an early 13-Zero lead whereas capitalizing on two early errors by Pharoh Cooper, the Rams’ Professional Bowl kick returner.
The Falcons’ protection did greater than sufficient to decelerate the NFL’s highest-scoring offense, harassing Jared Goff right into a 24-for-45 efficiency in his playoff debut.
“We knew it was going to take all 4 quarters,” Falcons linebacker Deion Jones mentioned. “All my guys have been able to battle ’til the tip, and it was nice.”
Robert Woods caught 9 passes for 142 yards for the NFC West champion Rams (11-6), however rookie Cooper Kupp scored the Rams’ solely landing late within the first half.
Atlanta held MVP candidate Todd Gurley to 101 yards speeding — simply 43 within the first three quarters — and 4 receptions for a mere 10 yards.
The Falcons ruined a celebratory evening for the Rams, who rebounded from a tough homecoming season in 2016 with an impressive debut yr below 31-year-old Sean McVay, the youngest head coach to achieve the playoffs in NFL historical past.
A raucous crowd of 74,300 packed the Coliseum on a crisp night for the primary NFL playoff recreation within the nation’s second-largest metropolis since early 1994. Los Angeles went 21 years with out professional soccer earlier than the Rams returned final season, and the franchise emphatically ended a 13-year streak of non-winning seasons this fall with an inspiring run to the Rams’ first division title since 2003.
However the Falcons have been right here earlier than, and so they confirmed it.
Though the Falcons’ offense took a step again in manufacturing this season, Atlanta chipped away on the Rams’ protection all through the Coliseum return of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who coached USC right here till 2015.
Ryan was methodical below relentless strain from All-Professional lineman Aaron Donald, repeatedly avoiding hassle and making large throws. Freeman rushed for 66 yards, and Mohamed Sanu had a key 52-yard acquire on a fourth-quarter display screen cross whereas ending with 4 catches for 75 yards.
Cooper is headed to the Professional Bowl after his excellent common season as a kick returner, however the second-year professional’s misadventures in his playoff debut value the Rams dearly.
He muffed a punt that bounced off teammate Blake Countess within the first quarter, and Bryant subsequently hit the Falcons’ first discipline objective. After Bryant’s second discipline objective later within the quarter, Cooper bought stripped by Damontae Kazee throughout a kickoff return on the Rams 32, and the Falcons drove for Freeman’s brief TD run.
The Rams’ offense struggled to get shifting, however lastly figured it out late within the first half. Goff made a number of sharp throws on a 79-yard drive ending in Kupp’s TD catch.
Los Angeles then bought the ball again and mounted one other fast drive, however settled for Sam Ficken’s first discipline objective and a 13-10 halftime deficit.
The Falcons’ offense bought again to its methodical work within the second half, mounting two clock-chewing drives ending in discipline objectives by Bryant. The Rams’ protection merely could not get off the sphere, whether or not because of missed tackles or intelligent playcalling by the Falcons.
Los Angeles trimmed the result in 19-13 with 10:49 to play, however the Falcons made one other drive highlighted by that stunning display screen cross from a blitz-avoiding Bryant to Sanu.
Jones then caught the sixth playoff TD cross of his profession. Goff drove the Rams deep into Falcons territory, however L.A. turned it over on down on the Atlanta 5 with 2:05 to play. The Falcons stopped the Rams once more on downs at midfield with 1:08 left.