St. Louis Rams vs. Atlanta Falcons: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis
St. Louis was completely dominated in the first half of this game. Penalties and a lack of awareness killed the Rams.
St. Louis had Atlanta stopped in the opening drive of the game for a would-be three-and-out, but a Chris Long off-sides penalty kept the drive alive and allowed the Falcons to march downfield for a Steven Jackson touchdown.
Atlanta scored two more touchdowns in the half and entered the third quarter with a 24-10 lead over the Rams.
The Rams—who at one time trailed 21-0—managed to claw back with three second-half touchdowns, while the St. Louis defense held Atlanta to just seven points in the half.
St. Louis' second-half performance proved that this was a winnable game for the Rams, but penalties and mental errors blew the opportunity.
For a second-consecutive week, the Rams racked up seven penalties.
Four of those penalties came on special teams. The punt return penalties were particularly troublesome, as it constantly forced terrible field position on the offense.
The Rams are the youngest team in the league, so mental errors are inevitable, but St. Louis will continue to lose winnable games if it does not cut back on penalties.
-Steven Jackson left the game in the first quarter with a thigh injury, according to the FOX broadcasters, so the game was not as emotionally charged as expected.
-Tavon Austin still hasn't produced any flashy big gains, but the rookie wide receiver was a major factor in the red zone with two touchdown receptions. Austin did have two key drops in the game, but it was otherwise an impressive performance.
-Sam Bradford gave up a pick six in the game, but that was the result of dropped ball rather than a poor throw. Bradford once again had admirable numbers; he finished with 352 yards and three touchdowns.
-The St. Louis pass rush was non-existent in the first half, but the group woke up in the second half of the game and recorded two sacks. Robert Quinn had one sack, bringing his total to four on the year.
Here's a look at the final stat leaders from today's game...
A Questionable Decision
The Rams scored a touchdown with under three minutes remaining to make it a one-score game, and coach Jeff Fisher decided to put the game in the defense's hands.
Rather than attempting an onside kick, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein launched the ball into an endzone for a touchback.
The St. Louis defense failed to get the ball back. Snelling picked up a first down on third-and-short, allowing Atlanta to run out the clock.
Do you feel Fisher did the right thing by kicking away in that situation? Should the Rams have attempted the onside kick?
Let me know in the comment section.
Tavon Austin hasn't had a lot of flash in this game, but he is having somewhat of a breakout here in his second career NFL game.
Austin scored St. Louis' first touchdown of the game in the third quarter. With just under three minutes in the fourth quarter, he pulled in his second touchdown reception of the game.
Austin has just 47 yards this afternoon and hasn't had any dazzling plays for a big gain, but he has helped the Rams tremendously in the red zone.
Rams are trailing Atlanta by seven here at the two-minute warning.
The Falcons ran 10 plays on that last drive and nine of those plays were passes.
It was the last play of the drive when the Falcons ran the ball, which apparently caught the Rams off-guard, as Jason Snelling broke through the St. Louis defense for an 11-yard touchdown run.
St. Louis held Atlanta to just 11 rushing yards in the second half, but Snelling was able to match that entire second-half total in one run.
The Rams are once again down by two scores. This time, there's just under seven minutes left in the final quarter.
Rookie Tavon Austin scored the first touchdown of his career to make it a two-score game.
Austin has been quiet for the majority of the game, hauling in just three passes for 22 yards, but his touchdown gave the Rams some life.
St. Louis followed up the Austin score by once again marching downfield for an Austin Pettis touchdown.
With back-to-back touchdowns, the Rams are suddenly down by just a score. Stay tuned.
The St. Louis defense has tightened up here in the second half.
Despite entering the half with a 21-point lead, Atlanta has been held to just 11 rushing yards in the half, which has limited its ability to kill time and end the game.
Rookie Tavon Austin scored his first touchdown of the game, and that remains the only score of the half.
Rams are currently inside the Atlanta 10-yard line and looking to make it a one-score deficit.
Here's a look at Osi Umenyiora's pick six against the Rams—the Falcons' third touchdown of the game.
Here's a look at safety William Moore's hit on Rams tight end Mike McNeill. This hit basically sums up the game for St. Louis.
Julio Jones has been a handful for the Rams this afternoon. He has racked up seven catches for 127 yards and a score.
Jones is proving that he doesn't need Roddy White on the field to dominate a game; he's an elite receiver on his own.
The Rams have held the other Atlanta receivers under 50 yards, but Jones has torn apart the St. Louis secondary today.
First Half Leaders
The Rams entered this game totally dependent on their pass rush—it was their key advantage over Atlanta and its questionable offensive line.
So far, Ryan has done an excellent job delivering the ball quickly and effectively, limiting the Rams' ability to get to the quarterback.
The St. Louis defensive line has created penetration at times, but they have zero sacks after one half of football.
After the pick-six, the St. Louis offense marched downfield and finally showed some life.
The offense was running a fast-paced attack and took the ball all the way to the Atlanta 5-yard line, but a Rodger Saffold injury killed the tempo.
A penalty for an illegal shift knocked the ball back to the 20-yard line, and the drive was ruined for St. Louis.
Here's ESPN's Nick Wagoner on Saffold's status:
Saffold has knee injury. Return is questionable.— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) September 15, 2013
Here's a look at Julio Jones' 81-yard touchdown—Atlanta's second touchdown of the game.
Rams running back Daryl Richardson failed to secure a Sam Bradford pass, allowing the ball to be tipped in the air for an Osi Umenyiora pick-six.
This is the second week in a row the Rams have had an interception returned for a touchdown.
The Rams are now facing a 21-point deficit with over 10 minutes remaining in the first half. There's plenty of time in the game, but St. Louis is allowing this one to get out of hand.
The St. Louis tight ends—Lance Kendricks and Jared Cook—combined for 10 catches, 166 yards and two touchdowns last week against Arizona.
This week, Kendricks has a dropped pass, and the two tight ends have combined for zero catches so far in this game.
The Rams had the Atlanta offense stopped at midfield in a 3rd-and-long, but Ryan and the Falcons answered back by hitting Julio Jones in stride for a 81-yard touchdown.
Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins had a chance to bring Jones down before scoring, but Jenkins missed the tackle.
The St. Louis defense has been stiff at times, but the Falcons are still finding a way to put points on the board.
Atlanta receiver Harry Douglas was a productive replacement for White last week after hauling in four passes for 93 yards.
Douglas is once again establishing himself as a go-to-guy for Ryan. Here in the first quarter, he already has two receptions for 35 yards.
Jackson, who had just four total touchdowns in 2012, scored his first touchdown of the 2013 season on an eight-yard catch from Matt Ryan.
Jackson is currently heading to the locker room to be inspected by the medical staff, according the Fox broadcast, but he managed to post a touchdown against his former team in the opening drive.
Penalties are already hurting the Rams, who had seven penalties for 59 yards last week against Arizona.
St. Louis had Atlanta stopped on its first drive of the game for what would have been a three-and-out, but a defensive offsides against the Rams revived the drive for Atlanta.
St. Louis will have to cut back on penalties to survive this game.
According to NFL.com, Atlanta receiver Roddy White will be active for today's game despite a debilitating ankle injury.
White will be on the field, but it's unlikely that the banged up receiver will be a major factor. Last week, while battling the same injury, White had just two catches for 19 yards.
The Rams will still be forced to deal with Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, but the Atlanta aerial attack is not at full strength.
This will be the 133rd game of Steven Jackson's NFL career. The first 131 of those games were with the St. Louis Rams.
Here's Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Jackson's pregame behavior:
Pretty businesslike for Steve Jackson so far during pregame, although he did get man hugs from Sam Bradford and Kellen Clemens.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) September 15, 2013
Apparently, Jackson is maintaining a professional attitude and approaching this game just like any other, but surely there's some emotion being held back.
Jackson—the Rams' all-time leading rusher—will return to St. Louis someday to sign a one-day contract and retire with the Rams.
Falcons beat writer Orlando Ledbetter of Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Atlanta's inactives and injury updates...
The #Falcons inactive list: 30 Vaughn 36 Ishmael 41 Motta 69 Gunn 73 Schraeder 92 Robertson 99 Maponga— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@AJCFalcons) September 15, 2013
Roddy White, Julio Jones and Sam Baker are active.— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@AJCFalcons) September 15, 2013
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on St. Louis' inactives for today...
Rams inactives: RB Zac Stacy, S Darian Stewart (thigh), CB Quinton Pointer (thigh), OG Shelley Smith, G/C Barrett Jones . . .— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) September 15, 2013
. . .OG Brandon Washington, DE Gerald Rivers. So DE Chris Long is up. So is TE Cory Harkey, who missed season opner with knee.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) September 15, 2013
Stopping the Run
The Rams held Arizona to just 3.3 yards per carry a week ago. The longest run play Arizona could muster was for 11 yards.
Atlanta will have to establish the run if it wishes to go airborne, and this could be a problem for the Falcons.
The Falcons ran the ball 19 times and averaged 6.2 yards per carry against New Orleans last week, but that stat is terribly misleading.
Steven Jackson had a 50-yard run that inflated the average. The Falcons picked up just 38 yards on the other 18 carries (2.9 yards per carry).
The St. Louis defense is extremely familiar with Jackson, which could pose a problem for Atlanta.
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