Rams, Falcons search for answers to avoid 0-2 start
Teams that are coming off losses in different fashions meet on Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams host the Atlanta Falcons at Inglewood, Calif.
The Rams were outscored by 21 in the second half and were dominated by the visiting Buffalo Bills 31-10 in the NFL opener last week. The Falcons squandered a 16-point lead with less than 13 minutes remaining Sunday and fell to the visiting New Orleans Saints, 27-26, on a 51-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining.
Rams coach Sean McVay and Falcons coach Arthur Smith offered different perspectives on their season-opening losses.
“It can be a blessing in disguise when it’s handled the right way,” McVay said. “Adversity is inevitable at some point in the season especially when you play 17 games. For us, it happened in Week 1.”
Smith told reporters: “You’ll continue to write our obituary. Who cares? We have 16 games. You buried us in May. Bury us again. We don’t care. We’ll get back to work.”
The Rams and Falcons have key areas to address in order to prevent an 0-2 start.
The Rams allowed the Bills to average a whopping 7.1 yards per play en route to yielding 413 yards to Buffalo’s high-powered offense. The Rams rushed for 52 yards and quarterback Matt Stafford threw three interceptions on 29-of-41 passing for 240 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked seven times.
The score would have been more lopsided had it not been for Cooper Kupp, who tied a career-high with 13 receptions for 128 yards and scored the Rams’ lone touchdown.
“I’m excited about the opportunity for this team to respond right away,” McVay said. “That was definitely a humbling night, a humbling experience for us. … You know that humility is only a day away in this league.”
Atlanta had a win in its grasp. leading 23-10 and had a third-and-5 from New Orleans’ 14-yard line with about three minutes left in the third quarter. Quarterback Marcus Mariota scrambled and picked up the first down before he was hit by safety Marcus Maye, who jarred the ball loose at the 5-yard line. Tyrann Mathieu recovered for New Orleans.
With the Falcons leading 26-24 with 1:40 left in the game and facing a third-and-1 from the Saints’ 42-yard line, Mariota fumbled the snap and was swarmed. If Mariota would have picked up the first down, the Falcons could’ve taken a knee since the Saints exhausted all timeouts.
Five plays and 47 yards later, Will Lutz hit a 51-yard field goal with 19 seconds left that ultimately lifted the Saints to a 27-26 win. The Falcons had one last-gasp chance at victory but Younghoe Koo’s 63-yard field goal was blocked by Payton Turner as time expired.
Since 2020, Atlanta has lost three times in eight games in which it led by more than 15 points in the fourth quarter. The rest of the league is a combined 245-2-1 in the same situation, according to si.com.
Mariota went 20-of-33 passing for 215 yards in his Falcons debut, while Cordarrelle Patterson rushed for a career-high 120 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He also had three catches for 16 yards.
Rookie first-round draft pick Drake London caught a team-high five passes – on seven targets – for 74 yards.
“We can’t let this one game define us,” Patterson said. “We didn’t get the ‘W’ that we wanted, but we have to keep working hard.”
Rams center Bryan Allen came away with a knee injury against Buffalo and is expected to miss two-to-four weeks. He will be replaced by right guard Coleman Shelton, with Tremayne Anchrum taking Shelton’s spot.
Rams receiver Van Jefferson, who missed Week 1 recovering from offseason procedures to his left knee, is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
–Field Level Media