St. Louis at Atlanta

Falcons hang on after hot start, beat Rams for first win

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- With so many teammates hurting, Julio Jones had to play an even bigger role for the Atlanta Falcons.

He was up to the task.

Jones matched the best game of his career with 182 yards receiving, including an 81-yard touchdown catch, and the Falcons held on for their first win of the season, 31-24 over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

"I know the other guys on the field are counting on me to make those plays when the ball comes my way," Jones said.

Matt Ryan threw for 374 yards and two scores despite taking quite a beating behind the Falcons' shaky offense line. Jason Snelling clinched it for the Falcons (1-1) with an 11-yard touchdown run with 6:18 remaining, Atlanta's longest play of the day on the ground.

There were plenty of flaws in the Falcons' performance -- hardly any running game, a lack of protection for Ryan, not much pressure on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford -- but they'll take it considering all the players who went down.

Five starters were done by halftime: running back Steven Jackson (thigh), linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot), defensive end Kroy Biermann (right ankle), cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh) and fullback Bradie Ewing (shoulder).

"While you don't want see anybody go down, nobody panicked, nobody blinked," said Ryan, who was sacked twice and hit eight times after throwing. "We just stayed the course."

The Rams (1-1) fell behind 21-0 when Osi Umenyiora returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown. Atlanta led 24-3 at halftime before St. Louis fought back on a pair of short touchdown passes by Bradford, who finished with 352 yards passing and three TDs.

Jones matched the best performance of his career; he also put up 182 yards receiving in last season's NFC Championship Game.

"Julio and Matt seemed to be in sync," coach Mike Smith said. "They were seeing the defense the same way."

Atlanta turned in the drive it needed to clinch it, throwing on eight straight plays before Snelling's TD run. St. Louis scored again with 2:09 left when Bradford connected with Tavon Austin for their second scoring play of the game. But the Falcons managed to run out the clock.

"We ran with them all day," Rams defensive end Robert Quinn said. "We just needed to make a few players earlier in the game."

The Falcons escaped with a victory they absolutely had to have if they wanted to show they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender, avoiding their first losing streak since 2009. They have now won 13 straight when coming off a loss.

Jackson, facing the team he played with the past nine years, capped Atlanta's opening drive with an 8-yard touchdown catch, but the celebration was short-lived. Apparently injured when he stretched for the goal line, he walked slowly to the locker room and didn't return.

Then it was Jones beating Janoris Jenkins in man-to-man coverage, breaking free down the middle for the longest reception of his career to make it 14-0. Umenyiora extended the lead when he picked off a deflected pass and showed surprising speed in front of the Rams bench. He then staggered to the sideline, smiling, and grabbed an oxygen mask.

The Rams could've folded. Instead, they really began teeing off on Ryan in the second half. While the Atlanta offense bogged down, Austin hauled in a 6-yard scoring pass late in the third, and Austin Pettis' 3-yard TD catch made it 24-17 with more than 12 minutes remaining.

Atlanta turned to Jones to clinch it. He hauled in a short pass and broke free on a 22-yard play. Then, on third-and-3 at the Rams 40, Ryan rolled to his left away from pressure and lobbed a pass that Jones leaped up to grab for an 18-yard gain.

Three players later, Snelling ran it in.

"We never believe we're out of the game until the clocks says zero," Quinn said. "We just fell a play or two short."

Notes

  • The Falcons had 1 yard rushing in the first half and finished with 36 yards on 16 carries.
  • Rams WR Chris Givens had five catches for 105 yards.
  • Falcons WR Roddy White played but was still slowed by a high ankle sprain. He had three catches for 21 yards.
  • Atlanta P Matt Bosher made a huge play at the end of the third quarter, leaping up to grab a high snap in his own end zone. He then got off a wobbly punt that rolled for 63 yards.
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Sun. Sept. 15Final
0371424
Atlanta
(1-1)
14100731
RamsFalcons
Pass: S. Bradford (32-55, 352) M. Ryan (33-43, 374)
Rush: D. Richardson (10-35) J. Snelling (2-19)
Rec: C. Givens (5-105) J. Jones (11-182)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDSteven Jackson catches an 8 yard pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant kick is good). Drive: 11 plays, 80 yards in 6:26.
TDJulio Jones catches an 81 yard pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant kick is good). Drive: 3 plays, 84 yards in 0:39.
2ND QUARTER
TDOsi Umenyiora makes a 68 yard interception return (Matt Bryant kick is good).
FGGreg Zuerlein makes a 29 yard kick. Drive: 10 plays, 69 yards in 4:56.
FGMatt Bryant makes a 38 yard kick. Drive: 11 plays, 46 yards in 2:55.
3RD QUARTER
TDTavon Austin catches a 6 yard pass from Sam Bradford (Greg Zuerlein kick is good). Drive: 6 plays, 74 yards in 1:50.
4TH QUARTER
TDAustin Pettis catches a 3 yard pass from Sam Bradford (Greg Zuerlein kick is good). Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards in 3:03.
TDJason Snelling runs for 11 yards (Matt Bryant kick is good). Drive: 9 plays, 80 yards in 5:45.
TDTavon Austin catches a 10 yard pass from Sam Bradford (Greg Zuerlein kick is good). Drive: 16 plays, 80 yards in 4:03.
Players of the Game
Atlanta

J. Jones
Rec 11
Yds 182
Avg 16.5
TD 1
Philadelphia

S. Bradford
Att 55
Comp 32
Yds 352
TD 3
 
St. Louis
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
S. Bradford32/5535231
RushingATTYDSTDLG
D. Richardson1035010
S. Bradford325023
T. Austin2807
I. Pead1101
B. Cunningham2000
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
C. Givens5105047
A. Pettis878120
T. Austin647211
D. Richardson545019
L. Kendricks223017
I. Pead21809
B. Quick115015
J. Cook110010
C. Harkey1606
M. McNeill1505
Atlanta
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Ryan33/4337420
RushingATTYDSTDLG
J. Snelling219111
J. Rodgers111707
S. Jackson3002
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
J. Jones11182181
H. Douglas443020
J. Snelling441022
T. Gonzalez433011
J. Rodgers428016
R. White32109
B. Ewing114014
S. Jackson1818
L. Toilolo1404
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
NYJ 10 Final
NE 13
CLE 6 Final
BAL 14
CAR 23 Final
BUF 24
MIN 30 Final
CHI 31
WAS 20 Final
GB 38
TEN 24 Final
HOU 30
MIA 24 Final
IND 20
DAL 16 Final
KC 17
SD 33 Final
PHI 30
DET 21 Final
ARI 25
NO 16 Final
TB 14
DEN 41 Final
NYG 23
JAC 9 Final
OAK 19
SF 3 Final
SEA 29
PIT 10 Final
CIN 20