Sep 8, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws the ball in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

Aug 29, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Alfredo Gutierrez (77) celebrates next to defensive lineman Darrion Daniels (65) after making a tackle against the Las Vegas Raiders in the third quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons sign DT Darrion Daniels to 1-year deal

The Atlanta Falcons signed defensive tackle Darrion Daniels to a one-year deal Wednesday.

Undrafted out of Nebraska, he had four tackles in four games with San Francisco in 2020.

Daniels, 24, spent the 2021 season on the 49ers’ practice squad before landing on injured reserve with a leg injury.

The 6-foot-3, 311-pound Daniels joins a position group that includes Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Ta’Quon Graham, Vincent Taylor and Anthony Rush.

–Field Level Media

Jun 9, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (4) gets a drink during OTA at Falcons Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons QB Desmond Ridder agrees to 4-year rookie deal

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder agreed to his four-year rookie deal, multiple outlets reported on Tuesday.

The third-round draft pick’s contract is worth a reported $5.362 million and includes a $1.08 million signing bonus.

Ridder, 22, reached an agreement in time to report with the other Atlanta rookies for training camp on Tuesday.

Ridder guided Cincinnati to a 13-1 record in 2021, passing for 3,334 yards, 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

With longtime starter Matt Ryan now in Indianapolis, Ridder enters camp at No. 2 on the Falcons’ QB depth chart behind veteran Marcus Mariota.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers receiver Geronimo Allison celebrates after catching a touchdown during the fourth quarter vs. the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Green Bay won, 31-24.

Lions 010117 Es21

Falcons sign former Packers WR Geronimo Allison

The Atlanta Falcons announced the signing Monday of former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison.

The Falcons did not disclose terms of the deal as they continue to overhaul the receiver position.

Atlanta acquired wideout Bryan Edwards in a trade last week with the Las Vegas Raiders and drafted Drake London of Southern California with the No. 8 overall pick last month.

The Falcons are playing the 2022 season without receiver Calvin Ridley, who is serving a suspension for betting on NFL games.

Allison, 28, played in three games last season with the Detroit Lions and did not record a catch on two targets. He caught 89 passes for 1,045 yards and six touchdowns in 46 games (14 starts) with Green Bay from 2016-19.

The Falcons are also breaking in a new quarterback with Marcus Mariota expected to take over for Matt Ryan, who was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in March.

–Field Level Media

Dec 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detailed view of a Philadelphia Eagles helmet against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former Eagles, Falcons DL Ed Jasper dies at 49

Defensive lineman Ed Jasper, who played nine seasons in the NFL with three different teams, died Friday at 49, the Tyler (Texas) Morning Telegraph reported.

No cause of death was reported.

Jasper played four seasons at Texas A&M and was a member of the 1993 team that was ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation. He was in the Aggies program when it transitioned from the Southwest Conference to the Big 12 in 1996.

Drafted by the Eagles in the sixth round in 1997, Jasper played 17 games over his first two seasons with Philadelphia. He followed with six seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, including starts in all 16 games in 2002. He finished his NFL career in 2005 with the then-Oakland Raiders.

In 118 career NFL games (60 starts), Jasper recorded 250 tackles and had 17 sacks. He also forced four fumbles and had four fumble recoveries.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans tight end Anthony Firkser (86) catches a touchdown pass during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons sign TE Anthony Firkser to one-year deal

The Atlanta Falcons signed free agent tight end Anthony Firkser to a one-year deal on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old veteran will be reunited with new Atlanta quarterback Marcus Mariota, his teammate with the Tennessee Titans from 2018-19.

Firkser caught 34 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games (one start) with the Titans last season.

He posted 106 receptions for 1,107 yards and five scores in 58 games (three starts) with Tennessee (2018-21).

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith is also quite familiar with Firkser, having been his tight ends coach in 2018 and his offensive coordinator in 2019 and 2020 before taking over in Atlanta.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA;  Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Within reach of playoffs, Bills host Falcons

The Buffalo Bills can punch their ticket to the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons Sunday when they host the Atlanta Falcons.

The Bills (9-6) can secure a berth in the postseason with a win over the Falcons (7-8) and either a loss or tie by the Baltimore Ravens or a combination of setbacks involving the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders.

Josh Allen is likely to play a significant role should Buffalo take care of matters on the field Sunday.

Allen threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns and added 64 rushing yards in the Bills’ 33-21 victory over the New England Patriots last Sunday. The win pulled Buffalo even with New England (9-6) in terms of record, with the Bills holding the tiebreaker due to their better record in division games.

Allen could have two key cogs back on Sunday with wideouts Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

“We’ve taken about as many precautions as you can take,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “So other than that, as I said last week, I’m not sure what else you can do. Really, the guys are only in for the most part for practice time other than treatments, for those needed.”

Tight end Dawson Knox has found the end zone four times in the last five weeks to boost his career-high touchdown total to nine this season. That matches top honors on the team with Stefon Diggs, who has found the end zone in back-to-back weeks.

Diggs was complimentary of Atlanta’s jack-of-all-trades Cordarrelle Patterson. The two were teammates in Minnesota for two seasons before Patterson ventured to the then-Oakland Raiders in free agency prior to the 2017 campaign.

“He’s probably the most talented person I’ve ever seen with the ball in his hand besides Adrian Peterson,” Diggs said of Patterson, who has career-high totals in rushing yards (579), receiving yards (523) and touchdowns from scrimmage (six rushing, five receiving).

“He’s up there — in my opinion because I played with him — with guys like Dalvin Cook and even those running backs. He’s like 6-2, 225 but he looks a little stronger than that. Our old coach, George Stewart, our receivers coach, used to say he’s too strong, too fast and too big. He’s one of those guys that’s extremely talented, can play all around the field and really just a generational talent.”

Patterson scored last Sunday as the Falcons collected their third win in five games with a 20-16 victory over the Detroit Lions. He has scored four touchdowns in those three victories.

Rookie Kyle Pitts had six receptions for 102 yards for the Falcons against the Lions, and fellow tight end Hayden Hurst reeled in the go-ahead 12-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter. The veteran Ryan is one touchdown pass shy of becoming the fifth quarterback with at least 20 TD passes in 13 straight seasons.

Hurst, however, joined defensive end Jonathan Bullard, safety Jaylinn Hawkins and offensive lineman Willie Beavers in being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday. Although Atlanta has 12 players on that list, coach Arthur Smith expressed optimism that some could return in time for Sunday’s game.

“Certainly you’re way more optimistic than you were,” Smith said. “It’s kind of ironic that we’re playing Buffalo. It was a different experience last year when we were with Tennessee playing Buffalo. The world was a different place.”

Falcons starting cornerback Fabian Moreau did not participate in Wednesday’s practice as he nurses an injury to his ribs.

Buffalo defensive tackle Vernon Butler and safety Jaquan Johnson did not participate in a walk-through practice on Wednesday due to illness. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was limited due to a knee injury.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons free safety Erik Harris (23) breaks up a pass intended for Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Falcons S Erik Harris (torn pectoral) out for season

Atlanta Falcons starting safety Erik Harris needs surgery for a torn pectoral muscle and will miss the rest of the season, NFL Network reported Monday.

He left Sunday’s 29-21 road win against the Carolina Panthers early in the first quarter. He walked off the field with a trainer and then headed to the locker room after a visit to the medical tent.

Harris, 31, finishes his first season with the Falcons with 64 tackles, eight passes defensed and half a sack in 12 starts.

He has 254 tackles and five interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, in 77 career games (42 starts) with the New Orleans Saints (2016), Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders (2017-20) and Falcons.

Jaylinn Hawkins, a fourth-round pick in 2020, is a likely candidate to replace Harris when Atlanta (6-7) visits the San Francisco 49ers (7-6) on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (7) after a touchdown, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Buccaneers face Falcons while pushing for NFC’s top seed

The calendar has flipped to December, which means one thing to Leonard Fournette and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“We know what’s at stake,” he said. “Coach BA (Bruce Arians) tells us every day in the meetings in the morning what we’re playing for. Just coming out knowing that each individual plays a part on this team and that will make us whole — to come out and do our job.”

No Tampa Bay player did his job better last week than Fournette. He rushed for 100 yards and scored four touchdowns, including the game-winner in a 38-31 decision over Indianapolis that strengthened the Bucs’ hold on the NFC South.

The Buccaneers aim to improve their seeding for the playoffs Sunday when they visit division rival and playoff hopeful Atlanta.

At 8-3, Tampa Bay is three games clear of the Falcons and New Orleans, so a division title seems inevitable. But the Bucs would still like to catch 9-2 Arizona and 9-3 Green Bay for the top seed so that they could stay at home and get a first-round bye.

“The expectations for us are to go out there and win the division,” said defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. “That’s the first step, especially getting into the playoffs. You do that and take care of business — you know that you’re going to be at home for your first playoff game and go from there.”

Tampa Bay didn’t need home field to win the NFC last year, taking road victories over Washington, New Orleans and Green Bay before it became the first home team to win a Super Bowl by routing Kansas City.

While precisely no one believes Atlanta (5-6) is the team to dethrone the Buccaneers, the Falcons are in the picture going into Week 13, which no one would have forecast in August. The Falcons would actually be in the playoffs if they started now had they not surrendered a late lead earlier this year against Washington, which presently holds the final spot.

As it is, Atlanta put itself in better position last week with a 21-14 win at Jacksonville, getting 108 yards and two touchdowns on the ground from Cordarrelle Patterson plus 190 yards and a score in the air from Matt Ryan.

Few players in the league are having a better all-around season than Patterson. The veteran receiver has become the Falcons’ leading rusher with 411 yards and their second-leading receiver with 41 catches for 500 yards.

The continued absence of receiver Calvin Ridley, who has played only five games this year while dealing with a personal matter, has hampered Ryan. He’s checked in at under 200 yards in four of the last five games with just four touchdowns and seven interceptions.

“It’s part of sports,” Ryan said. “You miss, but you can’t let it linger. You get back to work and have a great week of practice, and that’s what I’m focused on right now.”

Ryan threw for 300 yards in Week 2 at Tampa Bay, but also tossed two fourth-quarter pick-sixes to Mike Edwards that capped the Buccaneers’ 48-25 win. Tom Brady accounted for five touchdowns and 276 yards in the air for Tampa Bay.

–Field Level Media