By Shawn Lealos
The Atlanta Falcons lost a tough game last week to the Kansas City Chiefs and fell into a tie at the top of the NFC South. To finish the season, the Falcons had four straight games against teams with losing records; they took advantage of that this week with a huge 42-14 blowout of the Los Angeles Rams. Here is a look at the Atlanta Falcons team grades for this huge win.
A big takeaway from this game is the fact that Atlanta pulled off a major win without the help of wide receiver Julio Jones, who missed the game with a turf toe injury, or secondary receiver Mohamed Sanu, who was out with a groin injury. That means that the No. 1 receiver for Matt Ryan was Taylor Gabriel. Despite that, the Falcons threw first anyway, and it worked against the hapless Rams.
Matt Ryan threw for 237 yards on 18 completions with three touchdowns in the game. His receivers were Nick Williams, Aldrick Robinson and Gabriel, who combined for 10 receptions for 173 yards. For the running game, Tevin Coleman was the only real threat, with eight carries for 36 yards and a touchdown and two receptions for 19 yards and another score.
The Atlanta Falcons don’t have one of the top defenses in the NFL, but this week they had an easy task against the Los Angeles Rams. Rookie Jared Goff continues to look overmatched, throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns. He was also sacked twice. Atlanta forced three fumbles in the game, recovering all three of them. Courtney Upshaw, Paul Worrilow and Vic Beasley Jr. recovered the fumbles while Deion Jones and Ricardo Allen picked off the interceptions.
The only real offensive weapon for the Rams was running back Todd Gurley, and the Falcons limited him to just 61 yards rushing and a touchdown. Even with that, the Rams only ran the ball for 104 total yards in the game.
Special Teams: A-
The Falcons didn’t need to do too much on special teams. Matt Bryant only came out for extra points and hit all six. Matt Bosher did punt the ball eight times, putting two of them inside the 20. The only slight is that Tavon Austin averaged just over 10 yards a return on the punts while Atlanta never returned a single punt, pinned inside the 20 six times in the game.
The Atlanta Falcons came into the game against one of the worst teams in the NFC without their top two receivers. Instead of just running the ball, they chose to continue to play to their strengths and threw the ball a lot, putting up 42 points before the Rams scored their first point. The Falcons just destroyed the Rams.
Up next: San Francisco is the only team in the NFC West that is worse than the Rams. The 49ers have only won one game this season and will head to Atlanta to face a Falcons team that is fighting with all they have to hold onto the NFC South. The game is scheduled for Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET.