After the first few plays of Sunday's game, Falcons fans might have been a little nervous about what might transpire in the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams have been hot at home, and they started out that way against the Falcons. But a masterful use of the clock and field position ultimately put the Falcons in the driver's seat to pull out the 34-17 victory
Using the full arsenal**
Much has been made this year about the number of weapons Matt Ryan has at his disposal, and perhaps no game this season exemplified that like Sunday's. Ryan was very generous with the ball against the Rams, spreading it around to eight different receivers. As we've watched the season progress, we've gotten used to Roddy White getting a lot of the attention from Ryan, but the third-year signal-caller hit eight different receivers Sunday, including Brian Finneran for a first-half touchdown and Eric Weems for a clutch 18-yard pickup.
The Falcons have become a team that is very, very selfish with the football in their hands. Clock management has been a huge strength of the team this year, and time of possession is a category the Falcons have dominated. Sunday was no different. The numbers were gaudy, in fact. The Falcons held the ball for 35:55, compared to the 24:05 the Rams held the ball. Coming into the game, the Falcons were ranked third in the NFL below the Giants and Chargers for time of possession.
Back to health
Sunday's game was marked by good and bad injury news. The bad: defensive end John Abraham was made inactive prior to the game as he struggled all week through a groin injury. The lack of The Predator on the field could be felt as the Falcons had a difficult time creating pressure on rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. The good news: Sunday saw the return of tight end Justin Peelle and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, both of whom had been out for at least four weeks. Peelle scored a touchdown in the third quarter and Weatherspoon's presence was definitely welcomed on the defensive side of the ball.
Burning the field
Michael Turner has a profound affect on the Falcons' offense. When he carries the ball more than 20 times in a game, the Falcons tend to win. Atlanta really got the running game going against the Rams as Turner rushed 28 times for 131 yards. Turner's yards came in small chunks as his longest was 12 yards until late in the fourth quarter when he broke for a 39-yard TD in garbage time, but he picked up what the Falcons needed when it counted, and that's all that mattered Sunday.
William Moore has become a phenomenal asset to the defensive side of things. From getting an interception during his first start with the Falcons to coming up with huge hits when they're needed, Moore has taken advantage of many opportunities that have presented themselves throughout the season. With the Rams driving Sunday, down by nine points late and inside the 5-yard line, Moore picked off a shovel pass from Sam Bradford and put the game out of reach for the Rams.