2015 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

Sam BradfordJun 29 05:22p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) is expected to be in the final phase of his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament once training camp begins. Bradford's second [ More ]

Charles JohnsonJun 29 02:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Charles X. Johnson appears to have everything it takes to produce in the NFL, according to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. 'He's got great work ethic, and [ More ]

C.J. SpillerJun 28 09:02p

New Orleans Saints RB C.J. Spiller has a perfect skill-set for head coach Sean Payton's system, which relies on getting the ball to players in space, according Chris Wesseling [ More ]

Tony MoeakiJun 25 07:12p

Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Moeaki will compete with TE Jacob Tamme for the Falcons' starting tight end job during training camp. QB Matt Ryan praised both tight ends for [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJun 25 03:52p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin's reported weight gain this offseason is being overblown, according to general manager Dave Gettleman. Gettleman expects Benjamin to be ready to go for training [ More ]

Antoine CasonJun 25 03:03a

Free-agent CB Antoine Cason (foot) will miss the 2015 season due to surgery he underwent on Tuesday, June 23. Cason (Ravens) did not specify what type of surgery he [ More ]

Marvin JonesJun 24 09:13p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Marvin Jones (ankle, foot) did not play in 2014 due to multiple foot and ankle issues, but he is healthy and was impressive in organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp.

Keith WenningJun 24 02:43p

Free-agent QB Keith Wenning (Ravens) signed with the Cincinnati Bengals Wednesday, June 24. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Pierre GarconJun 24 02:23p

Washington Redskins WR Pierre Garcon could be featured more often in the passing game this season based on the offseason workouts. Garcon often lined up to the right of [ More ]

Martavis BryantJun 24 01:43p

Pittsburgh Steelers WRs Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant are expected to compete for the No. 2 wide receiver job during training camp. Both players performed well during offseason workouts.

Peyton ManningJun 24 11:53a

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning was the subject of preliminary trade discussions with the Houston Texans, according to a source. The talks occurred before Manning restructured his deal and [ More ]

Rueben RandleJun 24 10:53a

New York Giants WR Rueben Randle was the best receiver on the field by a wide margin during spring practices, in the opinion of beat writer Jordan Ranaan. Randle [ More ]

Chris IvoryJun 24 10:43a

New York Jets RB Chris Ivory is listed as the starting running back entering training camp, according to beat writer Rich Cimini's unofficial depth chart. RB Bilal Powell is [ More ]

Devonta FreemanJun 23 10:22a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman enters training camp ahead of RB Tevin Coleman on the depth chart.

Joseph RandleJun 23 10:02a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle appears to be the clear leader at running back, and it's his job to lose in training camp.

Ahmad BradshawJun 22 11:32p

Free-agent RB Ahmad Bradshaw (Colts) has been suspended one game for violation of the league's substance abuse policy. If he signs with a team he must sit out for the first week.

Terrelle PryorJun 22 04:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Terrelle Pryor was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns Monday, June 22, according to a source.

Fred DavisJun 19 06:02p

New England Patriots TE Fred Davis was released Friday, June 19.

Dennis PittaJun 19 02:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) was not medically cleared to practice in minicamp as he continues to recover from his second dislocated and fractured hip in as many [ More ]

Isaiah CrowellJun 19 01:22p

Cleveland Browns RB Isaiah Crowell could be the workhorse back if his ball security improves, according to offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

Devonta FreemanJun 19 01:12p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman will be used in a lot of different ways, including as a receiver, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'I knew Devonta had terrific [ More ]

Chris OgbonnayaJun 19 11:32a

Free-agent RB Chris Ogbonnaya (Giants) announced his retirement Friday, June 19.

John MoffittJun 18 11:02p

Free-agent OG John Moffitt unretired Wednesday, June 17, and cleared waivers Thursday, June 18. He is free to sign with a team of his choosing. The Philadelphia Eagles, Miami [ More ]

Terrelle PryorJun 18 09:32p

Free-agent QB Terrelle Pryor is going to give it a shot at playing wide receiver in the NFL. Some teams have already expressed an interest.

Allen RobinsonJun 18 09:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson was described as 'unbelievable' by QB Blake Bortles Thursday, June 18. 'He's definitely a threat now in the red zone. ... He's physical. He [ More ]

Terrelle PryorJun 18 05:32p

Cincinnati Bengals QB Terrelle Pryor was waived Thursday, June 18.

Taylor ThompsonJun 18 05:32p

Tennesse Titans TE Taylor Thompson was waived Thursday, June 18.

Matthew MulliganJun 18 04:32p

Free-agent TE Matthew Mulligan (Titans) signed an undisclosed contract with the Buffalo Bills Thursday, June 18.

Carlton MitchellJun 18 04:22p

Free-agent WR Carlton Mitchell (Buccaneers) signed an undisclosed contract with the Atlanta Falcons Thursday, June 18. WR Shane Wynn was waived.

Daniel ThomasJun 18 04:12p

Free-agent RB Daniel Thomas (Dolphins) signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears Thursday, June 18. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Pat DevlinJun 18 04:12p

Chicago Bears QB Pat Devlin, TE Jacob Maxwell and PK Jeremiah Detmer were waived Thursday, June 18.

Dez BryantJun 18 11:42a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant arrived for the final day of minicamp Thursday, June 18.

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