2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Falcons overcome injuries, beat Rams 31-24

By CHARLES ODUM - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-16 03:15

ATLANTA (AP) - It looked like it would be Steven Jackson's day when he scored on an 8-yard catch against his former St. Louis teammates to cap the Falcons' opening drive.

Instead, the touchdown was the end of Jackson's day. The running back left with a thigh injury, the first in a long string of injuries for Atlanta that forced coach Mike Smith and his staff to recast their plans.

The depleted Falcons relied heavily on Matt Ryan's passes to Julio Jones while adding one key rushing score by backup running back Jason Snelling that was the difference in Sunday's 31-24 win over the Rams.

Atlanta overcame injuries to five starters in the first half: Jackson, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot), defensive end Kroy Biermann (right ankle), fullback Bradie Ewing (shoulder) and cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh). None returned. Backup defensive end Cliff Matthews (neck) came back after his first-half injury.

``We have guys who can step in and carry the load and we don't miss a beat,'' Jones said.

Ryan and Jones carried most of the load.

Ryan completed 33 of 43 passes for 374 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Jones caught 11 passes for 182 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown catch.

``Julio and Matt seemed to be in sync, seeing the defense the same way,'' Smith said. ``When you have your receiver and quarterback doing that, you have a chance to be successful.''

The Falcons (1-1) ran for only 36 yards, but that meager total included Snellings' 11-yard touchdown run late in the game. The run followed eight straight passes.

The Falcons led 24-3 at halftime. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

The Rams (1-1) rallied as Sam Bradford passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns, including two to rookie Tavon Austin. Chris Givens had five catches for 105 yards. Austin Pettis had eight receptions for 78 yards and one touchdown.

``We just eliminated the mistakes,'' Rams offensive tackle Jake Long said. ``We had some penalties and mistakes in the first half. ... It was a little too late. We have to correct those mistakes early and can't spot them that many points.''

Here are five things we learned as the Falcons recovered from their opening loss at New Orleans while handing the Rams their first loss:

1. RAMMED BY MISTAKES: St. Louis drew seven penalties for 53 yards, including flags on special teams that hurt the team's field position. The Rams' biggest mistake was Bradford's only interception, which Umenyiora caught on a deflection off running back Daryl Richardson's hands. ``I took my eye off it,'' Richardson said. ``I was looking to run and I need to make sure I eye that ball and catch it.''

2. FALCONS CAN WIN WITHOUT BALANCE: The Falcons hope Jackson can return from his thigh injury and provide more balance to the offense, but Ryan proved he can use screens and quick passes as substitutes for a running game. Jones, in his third season, is proving he ranks among the game's elite receivers. He had 1,198 yards receiving with 10 TDs in 2012 and could be headed for a bigger 2013. Jones should be even more dangerous when Roddy White, who has played through an ankle sprain in the first two games, returns to full speed.

3. TAVON'S TIME: Austin, the No. 8 overall pick in this year's draft, showed some rookie growing pains early in the game. On one play he turned for a pass from Bradford too late. Another incompletion came on what appeared to be a busted play. ``I could have had some big plays but didn't, so I blame myself,'' Austin said. After having only two catches for 8 yards in the first half, Austin was a force in the final two quarters and became Bradford's favorite receiver. He drew a team-high 12 targets overall while making six catches for 47 yards, including touchdowns of 6 and 10 yards.

4. BARTU IS A ROOKIE SURPRISE: Joplo Bartu, an undrafted rookie linebacker from Texas State, made his first start for Atlanta and had six tackles, including two for losses. Bartu moved past Stephen Nicholas to make the start and appears to be far more than a one-week wonder. The linebacker is the early pick to be the bargain signing in general manager Thomas Dimitroff's rookie class.

5. FALCONS ARE RESILIENT: Yes, there are problems to overcome if the Falcons hope to make a repeat trip to the NFC championship game. The biggest issue may be an offensive line that has allowed five sacks in two games, including two against the Rams. But the Falcons, who lost their opener at New Orleans, showed impressive resiliency. Atlanta hasn't lost back-to-back games since 2009. The Falcons have won 13 straight when coming off a loss.

---

AP NFL website: http://pro32.ap.org/poll

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Chris CantyFeb 27 11:32a

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty was released Friday, Feb. 27. The move saved the team around $2.7 million on the salary cap.

Brian HartlineFeb 27 10:32a

Miami Dolphins WR Brian Hartline was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Harry DouglasFeb 27 10:32a

Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglas was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Matt HasselbeckFeb 26 07:42p

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent QB Matt Hasselbeck was re-signed to a one-year deal Thursday, Feb. 26. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Steven JacksonFeb 26 07:32p

Atlanta Falcons RB Steven Jackson will reportedly be released Friday, Feb. 27.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 05:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension was overturned by U.S. District Judge David S. Doty Thursday, Feb. 26. However, the NFL also announced that they will appeal the ruling, [ More ]

Travis KelceFeb 26 05:42p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, who led the team with 67 catches and 862 receiving yards in 2014, is expected to be a more prominent part of the [ More ]

Kendall LangfordFeb 26 04:12p

St. Louis Rams DT Kendall Langford was released Thursday, Feb. 26, saving the team $6 million in salary cap space.

Greg HardyFeb 26 02:32p

Carolina Panthers impending free-agent DE Greg Hardy will seek immediate reinstatement after a judge overturned Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension, according to a source.

Theo RiddickFeb 26 02:22p

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick likely will be given the chance to earn a bigger role in the offense next season after the team released RB Reggie Bush.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 12:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension has been overturned after a judge granted a motion from the NFL Players Association to vacate the suspension.

Michael RoosFeb 26 12:02p

Free-agent OT Michael Roos (Titans) has announced his retirement from professional football.

Dez BryantFeb 26 09:03a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is likely to receive the franchise tag because the team is hesitant to sign him long term due to a lack of trust off [ More ]

Peyton ManningFeb 25 09:23p

The Denver Broncos and representatives for QB Peyton Manning are working on revising the veteran's contract, according to multiple league sources. He is scheduled to draw a $19 million [ More ]

Reggie BushFeb 25 05:33p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush has been cut Wednesday, Feb. 25.

A.J. HawkFeb 25 04:43p

Green Bay Packers LB A.J. Hawk was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move will save them $3.5 million against the salary cap in 2015.

Jacoby JonesFeb 25 12:33p

Baltimore Ravens WR Jacoby Jones was released Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Peyton HillisFeb 25 10:43a

New York Giants RB Peyton Hillis was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move saves $945,000 on the 2015 salary cap.

Dez BryantFeb 24 10:33p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant's NFL career could be in jeopardy if a video he allegedly appears is as bad as it sounds. A source said the 'incriminating video [ More ]

Jake LongFeb 24 09:23p

The St. Louis Rams are likely to release OT Jake Long this offseason for savings against the salary cap, according to beat writer Nick Wagoner.

Mathias KiwanukaFeb 24 03:33p

New York Giants DE Mathias Kiwanuka has been released Tuesday, Feb. 24.

DeAngelo WilliamsFeb 24 12:23p

Free-agent RB DeAngelo Williams (Panthers) said he was not upset when the Carolina Panthers told him last week that he'd be released. Williams told Charlotte's WBTV that DE Greg [ More ]

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's father denied a report that Peterson no longer wants to play for Minnesota. Peterson's father said Peterson is still open to a return to [ More ]

Ted Ginn Jr.Feb 23 04:53p

Arizona Cardinals WR Ted Ginn Jr. was released Monday, Feb. 23.

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's situation with the team worsened during the NFL scouting combine as his agent and members of Minnesota's front office had a heated verbal altercation, [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 21 10:22a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) looks good as he continues to recover from a torn right pateller tendon in his knee, according to general manager Jerry Reese. [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIFeb 20 02:52p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will enter the 2015 season as the team's starting quarterback, and general manager Bruce Allen thinks Griffin's ceiling in the NFL remains high. [ More ]

Devonta FreemanFeb 20 08:42a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman fits well in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'My first impression: I can feel the quickness,' Quinn said [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 19 07:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) may commence running shortly, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz is recovering from a torn right patellar tendon in his right knee.

Andre EllingtonFeb 19 05:12p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) remains the focal point of the offense, according to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Ellington split the injured tendon in his left foot, [ More ]

C.J. AndersonFeb 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson finished the year as the team's No. 1 running back and made the Pro Bowl, but new head coach Gary Kubiak said Anderson must [ More ]

James CaseyFeb 19 02:22p

Philadelphia Eagles TE James Casey has been released.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group