Norwood carries Falcons over Rams

Getty Images/D.BencThe Falcons had all they could handle against the St. Louis Rams, winning a 31-27 game that came down to the wire. The Rams led the game 27-24 until Jerious Norwood scored on a 45-yard run with less than 4 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. The Rams would get the ball back and drive down to the Falcons 37-yard line before giving it up on a turnover on downs with 1:09 to go. The Falcons finish a remarkable season 11-5 and get their first playoff berth since 2004 under rookie head coach Mike Smith.

Matt Ryan led the team, completing 10 of 21 passes for 160 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions. It was a subpar performance for Ryan. However the Falcons ground attack was able to pick up the slack. Michael Turner had 208 yards on 25 carries and a score. Norwood had 56 yards on 3 carries and 2 scores. Michael Jenkins led receivers with 4 catches for 72 yards and Roddy White had 3 catches for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the struggling Rams offense gave the Falcons defense all they could handle. They gave up 202 rushing yards and the Rams offense held the ball for 35 minutes, 11 more minutes than the Falcons. Michael Boley led defenders with 12 tackles. Kroy Biermann (4 tackles, 1 sack), Keith Brooking (9 tackles), Erik Coleman (8 tackles), Chauncey Davis (3 tackles, 1 sack), Domonique Foxworth (6 tackles), Jamaal Fudge (10 tackles), and Stephen Nicholas (1 tackle, 1 sack) had noteworthy games. Fudge started in place of Lawyer Milloy.

On special teams, Jason Elam connected on his lone field goal of 39 yards. Michael Koenen averaged 36.8 yards on 4 punts. Jerioius Norwood averaged 38.4 yards on 5 kickoff returns, including a 92-yard run to end the first half. He capped off that drive with an 8-yard rushing scamper a few plays later. Harry Douglas had only 3 yards on 2 punt returns.

With their 11-5 finish, the Falcons will go on the road and face the Arizona Cardinals in the wild card round of the NFC playoffs next week.

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Aaron Freeman
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