Quarterback Matt Ryan passed for three touchdowns, and the Falcons rolled to a 42-14 victory over the woeful Rams at the Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.
Ryan completed 18 of 28 passes for 237 yards to keep the Falcons (8-5) tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for first place in the NFC South. The Falcons converted four of the Rams' five turnovers into scores.
"When you come into it from an offensive standpoint, I think L.A. has one of the best defenses in the league, specifically the front four is as tough to go against," Ryan said. "And they made it difficult for us all day. But we made some plays offensively, we really benefitted from some turnovers and some great field position. We were opportunistic. When we got our chances, we capitalized."
The Falcons, who jumped out to a 42-0 lead after three quarters, prevailed despite the absence of leading receiver Julio Jones, who was unable to play because of turf toe. Starting wideout Mohamed Sanu (groin) also sat out.
The Rams (4-9) lost their fourth in a row and fell for the eighth time in nine games. Rookie quarterback Jared Goff was 24 of 41 for 235 yards with two interceptions. Goff ran for a 2-yard touchdown with 2:44 left, his first NFL rushing score. Todd Gurley's 3-yard run, his fourth touchdown this season, to open the fourth quarter was the Rams' other score.
"Regardless of who you play, any time you spot someone three touchdowns, one on basically special teams and give up two defensive touchdowns on offense, it's hard to overcome," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "It doesn't happen."
It took the Falcons 10 seconds to score their initial touchdown. Rams returner Michael Thomas muffed the opening kickoff, and Atlanta linebacker Paul Worrilow recovered it at the Los Angeles 3-yard line.
On the next play, Ryan hit wide receiver Justin Hardy for a 3-yard scoring pass and a 7-0 lead.
"That was a great start for us," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. "To have the turnover on the very first play of the game and then the second play to get a score ... One of the terms we use is 'set it off.' Those two plays really set it off for us."
The Falcons struck again on the first play of the second quarter. Ryan found running back Tevin Coleman for a 6-yard touchdown pass, capping a nine-play, 88-yard drive for a 14-0 lead.
Linebacker Deion Jones made it 21-0 by returning an interception 33 yards for a score with 8:54 left in the second.
The Falcons added three more touchdowns in the third quarter. Ryan connected on a 64-yard score with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, Coleman scored on a 6-yard run, and linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. returned a fumble 21 yards to the end zone.
"Taylor ran a great route, but you have to have the time to do it," Ryan said of the bomb to Gabriel. "Our offensive line held up really well, we had everybody in positions we needed to open up for him, and I just tried to put it in a spot where he can catch it."
Gabriel had three catches for 82 yards.
Beasley Jr. recorded three sacks in addition to his touchdown. He pulled down Goff for a sack with one arm while still being engaged by Rams tackle Rob Havenstein.
"He had a terrific game," Quinn said.
Not the same could be said about Goff and the Rams.
"Obviously, it's not fun and it's not easy," Goff said of the losses. "We're not having fun, and we're not enjoying any of it. It's awful and it's hard."
Rams defensive end Robert Quinn missed his second contest in a row while dealing with the effects of a concussion.
Rams RB Benny Cunningham (neck), CB E.J. Gaines (thigh) and TE Cory Harkey (healthy scratch) also were among the players inactive for the game.
For the Falcons, DE Adrian Clayborn (knee) and S Robenson Therezie (ankle) were unavailable.
Atlanta S Kemal Ishmael left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury and did not return.
Rams S Maurice Alexander was carted off late in the third quarter due to a concussion.
The first game in Falcons history occurred against the Rams in 1966. Four Bruce Gossett field goals lifted Los Angeles to a 19-14 win.
Although the teams hadn't played at the Coliseum since 1978, the Rams hold an 11-1-2 record in meetings there.
An announced crowd of 82,495 attended.