Certain situations just seem to overwhelm a young team and ultimately serve more as a learning experience than an actual success in their own right. Such was the case for the St. Louis Rams in their Week 2 showing on the road against last season’s runner-up in the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons.
The final statistics say that the Rams should have won the game after they outgained the Falcons 421 to 393, but that isn’t the stat fans will be focusing on following this game. No, the statistic that sticks out the most seems very inconsequential on paper as it was one for the Rams and none for the Falcons, but that number in question is turnovers. It just so happens that the second quarter pick-six on a deflected pass from quarterback Sam Bradford intended for running back Daryl Richardson was the margin of victory as Osi Umenyiora took the mistake 68 yards the other way for a touchdown.
In addition to winning the yardage battle, the time of possession stat was nearly level with neither side dominating control of the pigskin in their Week 2 tussle. This was a great sign for a Rams ground game that really struggled mightily in the season opener. Although a lot of the yardage was piled up when they trailed by double-digits, moving the chains on the ground is still a difficult task regardless of circumstance in the NFL. 10 carries for 35 yards may not seem like much, but considering the Rams were in the trailing position for the entirety of the contest, Richardson had a pretty solid showing against Atlanta.
Along with running the ball with mild success, the Rams also managed to bottle up the Atlanta running game quite easily. Steven Jackson’s reunion with his old club only lasted for a few plays before he was forced out of action with a thigh injury in the first quarter. His three carries netted the team zero yards in the early going. In all, the Falcons had just 16 rushing attempts for only 36 yards on the day despite being the frontrunners that are generally more apt to stick to the ground game.
While the defense did impress in its run stuffing effort, the same can’t be said for St. Louis’ play defending the pass. If the pass rush doesn’t get home, the Rams are rendered virtually defenseless against aerially oriented offenses. Getting off the field on third downs was a real problem early as Atlanta converted 53 percent of their third downs (7-for-13) on the day. The highlight play of the game was Matt Ryan’s 81-yard touchdown to Julio Jones which, coincidentally enough, came on a third-and-seven.
A 24-3 halftime hole was ultimately too much for the Rams to come back from, but the team did show an inspired effort despite the adverse circumstances. This young team still has plenty of growing up to do, but there were promising signs of a brighter tomorrow despite loss number one of the 2013 season.