While the Atlanta Falcons had already clinched a playoff birth with their win last week over the Vikings, they still had plenty to play for on Sunday. They needed a win with a Panthers loss to clinch the two-seed in the NFC. They got it half right. Thanks to a late TD run by Jerious Norwood, the team took care of their own business, beating the Rams 31-27.
On a down note, the Panthers were able to kick a last-second field goal vs the Saints to snatch away the NFC South title in a 33-31 win. The Falcons will now head to Arizona next weekend to play the Cardinals in a wild card game at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Sunday though the Falcons found themselves in a dog fight vs a Rams team that had nothing to play for. They overcame three turnovers, including two in the fourth quarter, to give the now 2-14 Rams their 10th straight setback. Norwood broke off two TD runs, including the final one of 45 yards with 3:41 go to seal the four-point win.
The Rams had a final shot, as they got to the Atlanta 37, but an 8-yard run followed by a sack and two incomplete passes ended their final threat. The two teams played little defense, putting up 825 yards of total offense. Most of it came on the ground, as the Falcons rushed for 263 yards, and the Rams 202.
Michael Turner ran for 208 yards on 25 carries, an 8.3 yard per carry average with one TD. He did suffer a lost fumble in the end zone after a 70-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Steven Jackson piled up 161 yards for the Rams in the losing effort on 31 carries to go along with two TD’s.
Falcons rookie QB Matt Ryan was 10-for-21 for 160 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. He got the Falcons to a 24-14 lead at the 12:20 mark of the third quarter. The gutsy Rams came back though, as after a Josh Brown field goal, Jackson ran in from two yards out to tie the game at 24 with 13:18 to go.
St.Louis took the lead with 6:39 left on Brown’s 27-yard field goal, before Norwood bailed them out with the long TD run to seal the win. Rams QB Marc Bulger was 19-for-32 for 230 yards with a touchdown.
While the Rams will wrap up a tough season and wait to see about making numerous changes, the Falcons will get back to work on at practice this week as they get ready for the Cardinals next weekend.