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Falcons Dominate Rams On Both Sides Of The Ball – Week 14 Recap

Falcons dominate Rams on both sides of the ball - week 14 recap Thomson20192 via Flickr


The Atlanta Falcons dominated on Sunday on their way to a 42-14 victory over a dysfunctional Los Angeles Rams team who struggled to make plays on either side of the ball.

The Falcons headed into the game at 7-5 and tied for the lead in the NFC South, while the Rams had lost 7 of their previous 8 games on the way to a 4-8 record. The embarrassment in front of their home fans proved too much for the Rams’ ownership, with head coach Jeff Fisher fired on Tuesday.


Down his top two receivers, Matt Ryan and the offense were able to capitalize on mistakes from the Rams and score early and often against a team that pride themselves on their defense. The Falcons entered the game as the highest scoring team in the league, but the absence of Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu meant that Ryan relied heavily on the combination of Nick Williams, Taylor Gabriel and Aldrick Robinson.

Williams was promoted from the practice squad on Friday and instantly showed the chemistry that he had with Matt Ryan last season, moving the chains when it was needed most. While he may not have the athleticism of some other receivers, his sure hands and awareness of his surroundings make him a far more attractive option going forwards than Eric Weems if the Falcons have to choose one of them.

Taylor Gabriel has evolved from being a gadget player to an integral part of the offense who can be relied upon to make plays. He’s still the big play threat that he’s always been, as he showed when he shot past the Rams’ secondary on the way to a 64 yard touchdown reception, but he’s also excelling as a traditional receiver with good route running and reliable hands. Gabriel is a restricted free agent in the offseason and the Falcons will need to put a 2nd round tender on him if they want him to stay in Atlanta.

Falcons Dominate Rams On Both Sides Of The Ball – Week 14 Recap

The offensive line held up well against one of the better units in the game. Aaron Donald is going to be in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion again but right guard Chris Chester held his own in his toughest assignment to date. Donald is a relentless pass rusher and Pro Football Focus credited him with a sack, a QB hit and two hurries, but those stats don’t tell the whole story. Matt Ryan often had a clean pocket and was given enough time to complete screens and play action passes when called upon.

Left guard Andy Levitre has quietly flourished in his second year in Kyle Shanahan’s system. Levitre was given a big contract by the Tennessee Titans following an impressive four years in Buffalo, but struggled to adapt to their power run game. He was inconsistent last year, as expected from a player who only joined the team days before the season opener, but he’s a natural fit for the zone blocking scheme, having excelled in a similar system in Buffalo, and has looked far more comfortable this year. Pro Football Focus reported that he didn’t allow a hurry, hit or sack in 34 pass protection snaps on Sunday and has played an important role in Matt Ryan’s huge season.

The Falcons will be a little disappointed by the lack of production in the running game, managing only 66 yards on 25 carries, but with the game getting out of hand early the Rams were able to commit to stopping the Falcons on the ground, knowing that the team would attempt to slow the game down, reduce risks and run out the clock.

While the yardage totals aren’t likely to impress anybody, the Falcons will be encouraged by what they saw from Tevin Coleman. He only received 10 touches but proved that he’s a reliable option in the red zone, scoring on a screen pass from the 6 yard line and rushing for another touchdown. While he hasn’t had the chunk yardage plays that he did prior to his hamstring injury, he’s loosening up and looking more comfortable again in the offense.


The fact that the Falcons were playing against an anemic Rams offense who are averaging fewer than 15 points a game shouldn’t detract from the defense’s impressive performance. Despite being taken 1st overall in April’s draft, Jared Goff looks far from ready and rarely looked comfortable against a defensive unit that, while far from elite, is making a lot more plays than it was a year ago.

Vic Beasley continues to prove those people wrong who had written him off after his rookie season. Suffering physically from a torn labrum and emotionally from the death of his father, Beasley looked to struggle with the physicality of the game last year. Despite this, he lead the team with 4 sacks and showed flashes that excited fans.

After the team failed to register a sack in a week 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it looked as if pass rusher would be the team’s primary need again for the offseason. Since then, the team has wracked up 28 sacks with Vic Beasley’s 13.5 tying him for the league lead with Super Bowl MVP and All-Pro Von Miller. With the Falcons’ defense putting such an emphasis on turnovers, the 6 fumbles that he’s forced will delight Dan Quinn. Doing just that in the 3rd quarter, he was able to recover the ball himself and accelerate away from a tackle for the 1st touchdown of his career.

Having written in the past about Ricardo Allen’s physical limitations as the free safety in the cover 3 defense, he showcased his strengths with the awareness and ball skills to react to a loose pass that bounced off Kenny Britt’s hands in the red zone, completely shifting the momentum at a time when the Rams will have been thinking about leveling the game with a touchdown.

After a relatively run of games, middle linebacker Deion Jones thrust himself back into the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation with an athletic interception returned for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Reading Goff’s eyes, he showed great awareness to jump in front of a slant route and the speed to take it into the end zone.


Looking as if it could have been a potential banana skin during the week, the game couldn’t have gone much better for the Falcons. The offense was efficient with their scoring and could have had more points if not for the fact that starters began making their way to the bench in the 4th quarter.

The defense was opportunistic and made plays when they had the chance to do so. The breakdowns in coverage were few and far between and the “fast and physical” mantra that Dan Quinn preaches was evident.

Next up for the Falcons is a San Francisco 49ers team who have been outclassed for the majority of the season and look as if they will have one of the top picks in the draft. With the Buccaneers traveling to Dallas to face the 11-2 Cowboys, the Falcons will hope to move a game ahead of their division rivals.