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Falcons vs. Rams recap: Destruction

The Atlanta Falcons calmly and coolly dismantled the Rams by a score of 42-14.

Atlanta Falcons v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

I was gravely concerned that a depleted Falcons team might scuffle against a motivated Rams team, but as it turns out, I needn’t have worried. Atlanta ignored the circumstances and put a beatdown on the hapless Rams, earning a much-needed victory and giving the defense a massive shot in the arm.

Make no mistake: This was a defensive victory with a boost from specials teams, more than anything else. The offense accounted for just 286 yards, including a three yard gimme touchdown after the Falcons took away the opening kickoff, while the defense took the ball away from Los Angeles four times and scored twice on those turnovers. The Rams are a hapless, lousy team, but the Falcons badly needed to give their defense something to feel good about, and this was certainly it.

Now the Falcons have just three games to go, and three relatively easy opponents left to play against, with the chance of getting both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu back for those contests. If you’re feeling good about their chances of making the playoffs...well, so am I. If they can add legitimate talent to this team, especially on defense, then I think it’s not unreasonable to expect 2017 to be the year of arrival, but Atlanta is clearly on its way. That’s better than most of us would have expected, and now we just need to see them turn an already successful season into a playoff berth.

On to the full recap.

The Good

  • Matt Ryan was down two receivers—his top two receivers!—and it wasn’t enough to stop him. Ryan capped off the team’s first four drives with 93 yards and two touchdowns, chipped in another one later, and exited the game with 237 yards and three touchdowns.

Ryan is now at a bonkers 30 touchdowns versus just seven interceptions in 2016, which would make this the most successful season of his career if it ended tomorrow. Ryan has had plenty of help, but he’s showing just how good he can be, and I think it’s likely he’ll absolutely torch his next three opponents en route to a top three MVP finish.

  • On a day where Devonta Freeman unusually received just six carries (and got just six yards), Tevin Coleman did a nice job carrying the load. He had eight carries for 36 yards and a touchdown, plus another two receptions for 19 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons, it’s worth remembering, have two legitimately good options at running back, and that can make a difference if they’re forced to go without their top receivers for a little while.
  • Taylor Gabriel predictably did not see a ton of targets, but he equally predictably made the most of the ones he got. In total, he snagged three receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown, and that touchdown just so happened to be a 64 yard beauty that broke the Rams as completely as...well, every other score in this one, really.
  • Vic Beasley has already become one of the NFL’s most feared pass rushers, and he’s gotten several coverage sacks this season that some would consider “cheap” sacks. He finished this game with 13.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, and a fumble returned for a touchdown that put the Falcons up 42-0 on the year, and that 13.5 sacks represents the second-highest total in team history.

It’s worth noting at this point that Beasley was once widely-derided as a potential draft bust, but hard work, bulking up, and becoming more comfortable in the defense has predictably made him much better. I just never anticipated he’d be able to produce at this level, and it makes me think he’s headed for a career that leaves him as one of the franchise’s brightest lights.

  • Deion Jones had been quiet for several weeks, but that couldn’t last, given his speed and playmaking ability. He picked Jared Goff in the second quarter and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown, his second pick six of the year, and continues to put together a very impressive rookie season. He’ll be a good one.
  • Courtney Upshaw did it all in the third quarter, forcing a fumble, recovering it, and returning for a powerful short gain. Nice work, Courtney Upshaw.
  • Ricardo Allen has taken his fair share of crap this season—some of it deserved, some of it not—but he had a couple of key tackles and a big interception early in this one. I still don’t know whether he’s part of the team’s long-term plans as a starter, but on balance, I’d say he’s made his case for that outcome in 2016.
  • On a day where punting was important, having Matt Bosher back just felt right. Predictably, he did a nice job.

The Ugly

  • The sledding was always going to be tougher with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu out, but this tough? Nah.

Despite enjoying a solid day, the Falcons really did not have the kind of offensive success you might have anticipated they’d have against Los Angeles, and the passing game in particular struggled to get going. Let’s hope Julio returns.

  • I guess the Falcons could have scored more, or allowed fewer points, but c’mon. This was just a nice, enjoyable win, and I’m not going to nitpick it to death.

The Wrapup

Game MVP

It’s Vic Beasley. With three sacks and a defensive touchdown in this one, he was as integral to the outcome as anybody, and deserves recognition for just how great he has been.

One Takeaway

Atlanta is good! They are a good football team that beats bad football teams. Bask in that.

Next Week

The San Francisco 49ers are up next, and while the Falcons won’t pulverize them the same way that we just saw, they should win it. Follow along with Niners Nation to learn more.

Final Word