Despite a somewhat sluggish start, the Falcons prevailed in a road win over the St. Louis Rams by a score of 34-17. The team’s record moves to 8-2, currently atop the NFC.
Matt Ryan led the team with 26 completions on 39 attempts for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michael Turner added 131 rushing yards on 28 carries, including a 39-yard scoring run to seal the game. Roddy White had another strong performance, finishing with 9 receptions for 83 yards. Michael Jenkins added 5 catches and 58 yards with Tony Gonzalez having 4 catches and 46 yards as well. Brian Finneran’s lone reception was a 12-yard scoring strike from Matt Ryan. Justin Peelle caught Ryan’s other touchdown pass, and finished the game with 2 catches for 14 yards.
The Rams were able to get on the board first with a 25-yard touchdown throw to tight end Michael Hoomanuwanui. The Falcons answered back with a 42-yard field goal from Matt Bryant. The Rams would go up again on the ensuing drive with a field goal of their own. But a 55-yard kick return from Eric Weems set up the Falcons to make another score, where Ryan hit Finneran to answer. The Falcons were able to take their first lead on their ensuing possession, and stretch it with another field goal from Bryant to go into halftime up 16-10. Both field goals came as a result of the Falcons offense stalling inside the Rams 10-yard line. The Rams would answer back at the start of the third quarter after a Falcons three-and-out to take a 17-16 lead. The Falcons would answer two possessions later with Peelle’s touchdown catch with 2 minutes left in the third quarter. The Falcons would start the fourth quarter with a long, methodical 14-play drive that lasted seven minutes and wind up with another field goal after pushing the ball inside the Rams 10-yard line once more. The Rams tried to answer back with a drive of their own to cut the 9-point lead. But William Moore intercepted an errant Sam Bradford shovel pass at the 1-yard line with 3:31 left in the game. With 2 minutes left in the game and the Falcons running out the clock, Turner broke loss on a 39-yard scamper to end any chance for a comeback from the Rams. Ryan would hit White on a two-point conversion afterward.
Defensively, the Falcons had a strong performance. The Rams were only able to convert on one of 10 third down attempts. Curtis Lofton led defenders with 8 tackles. Jamaal Anderson (1 tackle), Thomas DeCoud (2 tackles), Brent Grimes (4 tackles, 3 passes defended), William Moore (4 tackles, 1 interception), Mike Peterson (3 tackles, 1 pass defended), Dunta Robinson (6 tackles), Vance Walker (2 tackles), and Brian Williams (3 tackles) had noteworthy performances.
Bryant made all four field goal attempts of 42, 29, 24, and 21 yards. Michael Koenen punted 4 times for an average of 45 yards, with 1 placed inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems had 4 kickoff returns for an average of 30 yards, and a single punt return for 11 yards. Coverage continues to be inconsistent, allowing a 33-yard punt return from the Rams, which helped set up the go-ahead score at the start of the third quarter. Kroy Biermann had 3 stops in coverage.
Next week the Falcons return home to square off against a 7-3 Green Bay Packers team. The Falcons last played the Packers in 2008, where they won in a dramatic fashion by a score of 27-24. Their last home game against them came in 2005, where the Falcons lost 33-25. The Falcons have won 3 out of their last 5 against Green Bay, including a 2002 playoff victory on the road. And they have won 4 of their last 5 at home, dating back to 1988. The Falcons sport a 5-0 home record this season, and have won 14 straight in games that Matt Ryan has started. The Packers are 3-2 on the road this season, with impressive road wins against the Eagles in the season opener and three weeks ago against the Jets. A win this week will do wonders for the Falcons potential seeding in the playoffs as well as give them a big momentum boost as they have three straight road contests following this one.