Published: Sun, January 07, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Ryan leads Falcons' 26-13 playoff win over upstart LA Rams

Ryan leads Falcons' 26-13 playoff win over upstart LA Rams

Atlanta let an early double-digit lead slip away before holding on at the Los Angeles Coliseum, setting up a showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles in next week's NFC divisional round.

Atlanta reached last year's Super Bowl before losing to the New England Patriots. But they're going against a Rams' offense led by a creative young head coach, Sean McVay, who calls plays for the NFL's high-scoring unit (29.9 points) and ranked 10th in total offense (361.5).

The Falcons opened the second half with two time-consuming drives that resulted in Bryant field goals, including a 54-yarder that gave Atlanta a 19-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Jones finished with nine receptions for 94 yards as Ryan went 21 of 30 for 218 yards. But Ryan has his team back in the postseason despite a big dropoff in points and yards. Todd Gurley got going too late to help, although he did finish with 101 yards rushing.

The Rams were shaky at times in their first playoff game since 2005.

Cooper is headed to the Pro Bowl after his outstanding regular season as a kick returner, but the second-year pro's misadventures in his playoff debut cost the Rams dearly. Cooper bobbled several other kicks as jitters were clearly a factor. The sixth-seeded Falcons, who improved to 11-6 with the win, never trailed against the Rams.

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When asked about his biggest surprise this season, Phillips quipped: "Aaron Donald". The fourth-year defensive tackle from Pitt was a disruptive force on almost every play. "I really do. I think he'll continue to grow and really excited what the future holds for him, because I know he'll attack it the right way".

Even though the Falcons represented the NFC in the Super Bowl past year, and were considered one of the early favorites to earn a trip to Minnesota this season, it was clear the offense wasn't almost the same from their epic run from a season ago. They clinched the final spot in the playoffs and are the only team in the NFC to return from past year. Minnesota is 13-3, but are you going to trust a playoff team with quarterback Case Keenum, who couldn't cut it in his first four National Football League seasons with Houston or the Rams?

In a year where left was right and up was down, the Los Angeles Rams going from 4-12 to 11-5 should be an acceptable form of a new normal in an National Football League where what was, isn't necessarily what will be, moving forward.

Former Buffalo Bills receivers Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins have found a home in Los Angeles.

But the score was made possible with a huge 52-yard catch-and-run by Mohamed Sanu two plays earlier.

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