Sunday afternoon, the Atlanta Falcons fell to the Los Angeles Rams 37-10 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The game was more than just a loss, it felt like an implosion. Failing to get anything going on offense or defense, we saw a meltdown of wits, two key injuries, and an ejection to cap what was a rough outing for the dirty birds.
Quarterback Matt Ryan was leading the Falcons on what started as an effective drive, developing a rhythm with Calvin Ridley. When the drive came to a halt, they relied on the boot of Matt Bryant who nailed a 52-yard field goal with confidence.
By the end of the first quarter, the Rams would see Bryant’s 52-yard try and raise them a 55-yarder by Greg Zuerlein. We would also see Corey Littleton get the best of Ito Smith, plowing through the Falcons running back on a screen pass. Smith was injured during the play and did not return.
The second and third quarters are where the Rams separated themselves from the Falcons. After a Todd Gurley touchdown put the Rams up 10-3, the Rams found themselves in an odd fourth-down scenario. So they came out in a punt formation and quickly shifted to the shotgun. The switch was just enough to throw off the Falcons as they converted the attempt for a first down. They would eventually get a field goal to increase their lead to 13-3.
Just minutes into the third quarter, Rams quarterback Jared Goff found Gerald Everett for an 8-yard touchdown reception and proceeded to do the dirty bird celebration in the end zone.
If you’re wondering how things can unravel fast, Falcons running back Devonta Freeman was ejected in the third quarter for throwing a punch. Freeman and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald got into a scuffle after L.A. linebacker Cory Littleton intercepted a pass that bounced off the hands of receiver Mohamed Sanu.
But the scariest moment for Falcons fans was in the fourth quarter when Matt Ryan was seen writhing in pain. The star quarterback left the game with an ankle injury.
Matt Schaub did his part as Ryan’s replacement completing six passes on six attempts for 65 yards and a touchdown to end the game. After the game, Falcons head coach had a lot to address:
[On if the team is getting better or worse]
“Well, sometimes it depends on where the area that you’re discussing. Certainly, the score was not indicative of that. I’m sure when you go back and look at it, there will be parts of it that were better, whether it was the run game, on defense, or improving on third down. At the end of the day, it still counts on the performance, and so that’s what you look to. When you’re not meeting it, there are lots of reasons. That’s what I try to spend most of my time to say, ‘Okay, how do we make sure all three phases can get connected to do it?’ When you don’t hit it in one of the areas, both or all three, you want to keep digging for the answers, [It is] definitely frustrating.”
[On Matt Ryan’s injury]
“Well, we’ll have a better sense of that as the week goes. I didn’t get a chance to visit with him yet after the game, so we’ll get a better sense of where we’ll go. If he’s not able to, obviously we’ll lean on Matt Schaub who’s got plenty of experience. I know how tough Matt [Ryan] is; if there’s a chance he can go — I don’t know the extent of the injury, where we’re at yet, so I think I’ll have a better answer Monday, Wednesday, Thursday as we’re heading into the week, but I don’t know the extent of it yet.”
[On whether or not he feels like he’s lost the team]
“I understand the question. It’s a fair question, quite honestly, because you spend most of your time trying to connect and get the team to play like we’re capable of. The answer I would say is no, but why am I — the disbelief at times of not playing like we’re capable of, that can be very frustrating. When you don’t do that, you want to look and search and find answers, and that’s what I spend most of my time doing to see what tweaks, what things need to be changed, whether it’s personnel, scheme, whether it’s an assistant in play calling or for me to apply some attention elsewhere. I’m always looking to do anything that’s best for the team. Trust me, my ego is never bigger than the team. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to help get us right.”
[On whether or not he feels that it’s a lost season for him or the team]
“I’ll answer the first one as a lost season, no, I never think you’re out of the fight. You shouldn’t think that way as a team member, and I certainly don’t think that way as the coach. I recognize that when you don’t play well, those are fair questions, but I don’t feel like we’re ever out of the fight, and until we do like we’re capable of, my fight would always stay consistent.”
The Falcons will go back to the drawing board and get ready to face Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday, October 27, at 12 p.m. on FOX.
Photo: Hakim Wright