Falcons face Rams in NFC Wild Card game

Sheri Evans
January 7, 2018

But things shifted for the Falcons in the third quarter, when they finally got a consistent ground game going.

The Rams (11-5) rested most of their top playmakers last weekend in that game against San Francisco, keeping them fresh for the franchise's first postseason game in Southern California since 1986.

In an on-field interview after the game, Matt Ryan laughed when asked how the game had compared to the Falcons' hard season.

"I'm O-fer, so I don't have much experience in winning", he joked this week.

The Rams (11-5) are the new kids on the playoff block, led by 31-year-old coach Sean McVay, who turned second-year quarterback Jared Goff from a bust into a solid starting National Football League quarterback over the course of one offseason.

Quarterback Matt Ryan is in the playoffs for the sixth time in 10 seasons and still searching for the ultimate prize.

The ghosts of the Super Bowl collapse could hardly be exorcised by one playoff win, but the perseverance the Falcons showed in Los Angeles should give them something to build on.

Pharoh Cooper, another Rams reserve wide receiver who also serves as LA's primary kickoff and punt return man, has a shoulder injury that had coaches concerned, especially since he was unable to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Freeman carried the ball 18 times for 66 yards and got some serious - and potentially illegal - help from Alex Mack on a touchdown run in the first half.

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The Rams would appear to have the edge in balance to go along with the home-field advantage.

The biggest X-factor remains youth.

After four years with the Cincinnati Bengals, the former Rutgers Scarlet Knight has formed a solid rapport with quarterback Matt Ryan in his two seasons in Atlanta, catching 126 passes for 1,356 yards and nine touchdowns in 30 games.

"We do a very good job throughout the week of getting ourselves prepared and ready to play", Ryan said Tuesday.

Kamara's speed and ability as a pass catcher out of the backfield creates matchup nightmares for opposing offences, while Ingram's physicality is a ideal change of pace - and he's also no slouch in the pass game. "And we prepare better than anyone else in the league". "That provides confidence, so I think guys just need to focus on doing the best that they can with where their feet are at that time of the day".

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