Sunday, September 15, 2013
Three things revisited: Rams-Falcons
By Nick Wagoner
ATLANTA -- Looking back at three things worth watching from the St. Louis Rams' 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
1. On the line: The Falcons' offensive line didn’t entirely right the ship after a rough outing against New Orleans last week, but it did fare better against a Rams' defensive line that didn’t seem to get much pressure until the second half.
Atlanta’s inability to run the ball made it one-dimensional and offered some prime opportunities for the Rams’ front four to rush the passer with impunity.
The Rams got to Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan for two sacks, but spent most of the second half taking aim at him. They had eight quarterback hits according to the unofficial press-box statistics.
It was still an upgrade for Atlanta’s line from last week, and a bit of a downgrade for the Rams after they dominated Arizona upfront last week. The decision would go to the Rams in the battle upfront but it wasn’t as clear as last week.
2. Tight end battles: The Falcons made it clear they had no intention of allowing Rams tight end Jared Cook to carve them up the way he did Arizona last week. To that end, Atlanta used a linebacker to make contact every time Cook released from the line and added safety help over the top.
Cook’s line was much different than last week as a result, finishing with one catch for 10 yards on six targets. That did open things up for receivers Chris Givens and Austin Pettis, who posted 105 and 78 yards, respectively.
On the other side, Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez was relatively quiet in his own right. He had four catches for 33 yards, but did come up with some key first downs, including one that set up Atlanta’s final touchdown.
3. Revving the run game: Another week went by without much productivity from the Rams’ running game. Starter Daryl Richardson played after battling a foot injury in practice this week, but he wasn’t too effective, averaging 3.5 yards on his 10 carries.
The Rams didn’t get much work for their other backs, either. Isaiah Pead had one carry for 1 yard, and rookie Benny Cunningham got his first NFL opportunity with two carries for no yards.
Quarterback Sam Bradford actually provided the day’s longest run for the Rams, picking up 23 yards on a late scramble. All told, the Rams gained just 3.8 yards per attempt on 18 carries.