Falcons lead Rams 13-10 at halftime of NFC wild-card game

Arnold Nichols
January 7, 2018

Atlanta let an early double-digit lead slip away before holding on at the Los Angeles Coliseum, setting up a showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles in next week's NFC divisional round. The Falcons were able to get some traction on the ground, especially in the third and fourth quarters.

The touchdown reception was the seventh for Jones in eight postseason games.

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.

Jared Goff made a few fantastic throws, but he was wildly inconsistent. The sixth-seeded Falcons, who improved to 11-6 with the win, never trailed against the Rams.

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

Gurley was productive on the ground, with 101 yards. Saturday against the Rams showed how dominant the defense could play, with the Falcons limiting MVP candidate Todd Gurley's ability to be effective, particularly as a receiver in the passing game. Cooper bobbled several other kicks as jitters were clearly a factor.

While the Falcons eventually pulled away, Ryan was harassed for much of the game by the Rams defensive front. The fourth-year defensive tackle from Pitt was a disruptive force on almost every play. He finished with just one-half of a sack and one hit, but even on the plays where he didn't take Ryan down, his presence was felt. They dominated time of possession and softened up the Rams defense. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2004 after going 4-12 last season.

Sean McVay, the likely NFL Coach of the Year, looks to have solved the riddle that was their quarterback situation, while Gurley has come back from a disappointing season in 2016.

Former Buffalo Bills receivers Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins have found a home in Los Angeles. He had only four catches for 10 yards on Saturday night. But what makes them even more unsafe now is the way the defense has played.

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