Hot Hits

Atlanta Falcons survive injuries, push past St. Louis Rams, 31-24

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora hauled in his first career interception and returned it for a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams in Week 2.

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora hauled in his first career interception and returned it for a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams in Week 2.

Despite losing five starters to injury before halftime, the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) stayed the course and beat the St. Louis Rams (1-1) by a score of 31-24 in Week 2.

Running back Steven Jackson (thigh), linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot), fullback Bradie Ewing (shoulder), cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh), and defensive end Kroy Bierman (right ankle) all went down in the first two quarters and did not return.Wide receiver Roddy White, still recovering from a high ankle sprain, caught just three passes for 21 yards.

The Rams did not escape unscathed either. Right tackle Rodger Saffold left the game in the second quarter and was seen on crutches, while safety Matt Daniels broke his ankle and will need surgery.

Quarterback Matt Ryan completed 33 of 43 passes to nine different receivers for an amazing completion rate of 76.7 percent, 374 yards, two touchdowns and zero turnovers — good for a superb Complete Quarterback Rating (CQBR) of 105.3.

Julio Jones matched a career high in receiving yards with 182 on 11 catches. He also had a career-long 81-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter to put Atlanta up 14-0.

Steven Jackson's first touchdown as a Falcon came with a price.

Steven Jackson’s first touchdown with the Atlanta Falcons came at a price.

Offensive line

The Falcons offensive line was abysmal last week against the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Mike Smith made it a point this week to improve. Even though Ryan was under some pressure in the first half, the line gave up no sacks, enabling Ryan to complete 19 of 26 attempts for 237 yards and two touchdowns.

In the second half, however, the line gave up two sacks. Against a St. Louis line anchored by defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, that isn’t bad. We can expect to see continued improvements from the offensive line.

Run game

Mike Smith confirmed after the game that losing Steven Jackson in the first quarter significantly changed their gameplan. In a game during which they had been expected to pound the rock with Jackson, Atlanta netted one rushing yard in the first half and 36 for the entire game.

On the bright side, backup running back Jason Snelling helped to seal the victory on his 11-yard touchdown run with 6:12 remaining.

Young defense

Safety William Moore came up with some big hits to help anchor a strong defensive showing.

Safety William Moore came up with some big hits to help anchor a strong defensive showing.

Cornerback Robert McClain played an excellent game, finishing with nine tackles, one quarterback hit and a defensed pass.

Rookies Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant continue to develop and make plays, showing why they were the Falcons’ first two draft picks this year.

Undrafted linebacker Joplo Bartu received more playing this time and impressed with six solo tackles, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. He may find himself a starter sooner rather than later.

Flaws

The offensive line still has room for improvement. Thirty-six rushing yards is not going to take any team very far. Matt Ryan was under too much pressure. He took a couple of hits to his side and each time appeared in pain, perhaps experiencing lingering effects of the blow to the ribs he took last week.

The defense was unable to hold St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford in check in the second half, as he amassed 352 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Going streaking

The Falcons avoided starting out 0-2 and pushed their streak of wins after losses to 13, dating all the way back to the 2009 season.

Atlanta continues to make the most of extra opportunities, scoring seven points off the lone Rams turnover. Since 2010 the Falcons rank second only to the New England Patriots (403) with 321 points off turnovers.

Special moments

The home opener at the Georgia Dome was special, as the first three scores all came on milestone plays.

Steven Jackson got his first touchdown as a Falcon on an eight-yard reception in the first to put the Falcon ahead 7-0. Julio Jones then beat the secondary on a career-long 81-yard bomb to put the Falcons out to a 14-0 lead.

In the second quarter, defensive end Osi Umenyiora caught his first career interception and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown to go up 21-0.

Rookie tight end Levin Toilolo also caught his first pass of his career.

UFA Joplo Bartu was a big reason why the Rams were held to 69 rushing yards.

UFA linebacker Joplo Bartu was a big reason why the Rams were held to 69 rushing yards.

On the other side of the field, Rams rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin caught his first touchdown pass in the third quarter. He followed it up with another late in the fourth quarter.

What’s next

The Atlanta Falcons sit in second place alone in the NFC South. The race for a Super Bowl is a marathon, not a sprint, so their primary goal should be to get healthy. Now is a perfect time to limit some players if needed.

The good news is that out-of-conference games tend have a much lower impact on playoff seeding, and the Falcons face AFC East opponents — the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and New York Jets — the next three weeks, immediately followed by their bye.

If the Falcons were going to be riddled with injuries at any point in the season, now happens to be the best time. Luckily, the Patriots and Jets have plenty of concerns of their own.

1141 comments
LSU4LIFE
LSU4LIFE

The Redskins are on a pace to break the Saints all- time record of most yds yielded in a NFL season,by more than 600yds,my thanks go out to our old friend Jim Haslett the Redskins DC,keep up the good work.

thenichels
thenichels

@LSU4LIFE I won't bash on Haslett...he gave us our first playoff win.  Although, he did stick with Brooks, so it's kind of a push.

bpraji
bpraji moderator

I am on pace for four poops today.

The Real C-Jammin
The Real C-Jammin

Falcons are on pace to have 8 players on their active roster by Week 4.

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

Is it just me, or is there a minimal amount of coverage about the DC shooting. It's almost nowhere.

natesweet
natesweet moderator

@Maized and Confused I prefer it to be like this is. Less coverage results in less speculation. Speculation is unhealthy.

natesweet
natesweet moderator

@Maized and Confused Yes. Minimal coverage, although my daughter heard about it this morning and she is at home sick. THey don't have cable either.

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

Right, normally this kind of incident is EVERYWHERE. If you weren't watching the national news right now, you'd never know it happened.

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

It's really bizarre. The other shootings recently were covered minute-to-minute on EVERY channel.

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

I'm trying to figure out why, and this is seriously the only conclusion I can draw other than it happened at a military facility, but the Ft. Hood shootings were extensively covered too, so it's really just down to the race thing.

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

I agree, but this is a polar extreme from what usually happens. Which makes me think it's being suppressed.

Donny33
Donny33

@Maized and Confused i can't think of another reason either.  i think the media has been told to keep all black crime on the down low.

LKP
LKP

@andylet445 Since Best didn't get any touches. He is on pace for 5 Billion yards and 40 million TDs

LSU4LIFE
LSU4LIFE

@andylet445 I will shave both Eyebrows,and wear a Falcon jacket for 5 yrs if he gets that.

The Real C-Jammin
The Real C-Jammin

@Maized and Confused

"Eli Manning is elite.  Same goes for Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers, and Matt Stafford.  Chrisitain Ponder and Josh Freeman are on the cusp."

-John Clayton

Childerz...
Childerz...

@Natesweet I know.. did you see how close those people were sitting to it when it shoots fire.,.. i'd feel not safe