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Falcons vs. Rams takeaways: Atlanta pulls away for first-round win; face Eagles next


LOS ANGELES – The Falcons are heading to Philadelphia.

Atlanta knocked off the third-seeded Rams 26-13 Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum in the wild-card round and will move on to face the top-seeded Eagles in Philadelphia next Saturday. A 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff is scheduled.

Clinging to a six-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones for an 8-yard touchdown to put the Falcons up 26-13, sealing the win with 5:43 remaining.

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

The Rams put together a 16-play drive, drove down to the Falcons' 5-yard line, but turned it over on downs with 2:05 left in the game. The sixth-seeded Falcons, who improved to 11-6 with the win, never trailed against the Rams.

Ryan completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown, despite being under pressure and sacked three times. Jones, who was targeted 10 times, caught nine of Ryan's passes for 94 yards and the aforementioned game-sealing touchdown. Sanu had four catches for 75 yards, highlighted by the 52-yarder.

Falcons cash in on muffed punt, fumbled return

Atlanta scored the first points of the night on a Rams blunder on special teams. When the ball hit Rams punt returner Pharoh Cooper on the leg on Matt Bosher's punt, it went through the hands of a few players before Falcons linebacker LaRoy Reynolds eventually came up with it on the Los Angeles 17-yard line. You can watch the play here:

The Falcons couldn't muster much on offense during the drive but turned the Rams' miscue into three points when Matt Bryant booted a 29-yard field goal.

After Bryant booted his second field goal of the game – a 51-yarder to make it 6-0 – Cooper fumbled the kickoff return. Atlanta took over once again in Rams territory, on the 32-yard line.

On second-and-goal, Devonta Freeman scored from 3 yards out with 11:34 left in the second quarter and the Falcons jumped ahead to a 13-0 lead.

Freeman rushed for 66 yards on 18 carries and had the lone rushing touchdown. Tevin Coleman ran it 14 times for 40 yards as the Falcons tallied 322 yards of total offense.

Bryant continues to be money

Falcons kicker Matt Bryant is on quite a run. In the last two games, Bryant has accounted for 27 of the Falcons' points, booting nine field goals. He was 4-for-4 on Saturday night against the Rams and went 5-for-5 against the Panthers in Week 17.

Even more impressive is the fact that three of those field goals are from 56, 51 and 54 yards out.

Falcons hold Gurley (mostly) in check

Outside of three long runs, the Falcons limited the Rams' most potent weapon -- running back Todd Gurley -- for much of the night. The stats will show that Gurley ran the ball 14 times for 101 yards, but the Rams' talented back was kept out of the end zone and struggled in the passing game, catching four balls for 10 yards -- despite being targeted 10 times.

Recap Saturday's game with the in-game blog

We provided live updates and analysis during Saturday's wild-card playoff game against the Rams as well as highlights, stats and additional insights. You can recap all the action below.

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