NFC wild-card: Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons boot Los Angeles Rams

By The Sports Xchange
NFC wild-card: Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons boot Los Angeles Rams
Kicker Matt Bryant and the Atlanta Falcons fought past the Los Angeles Rams in an NFC wild-card game Saturday. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES -- Matt Bryant kicked four field goals and the Atlanta Falcons' defense kept the vaunted Rams' offense in check to upset Los Angeles 26-13 on Saturday in an NFC wild-card playoff game at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Bryant, who hit five field goals in Atlanta's regular-season finale, made kicks of 29, 51, 25 and 54 yards.


The Falcons' Devonta Freeman recorded a rushing touchdown for the NFC defending champions. Matt Ryan, who was 21 of 30 for 218 yards, added a scoring pass to Julio Jones for sixth-seeded Atlanta (11-6).

The third-seeded Rams (11-6), in the playoffs for the first time since 2004, were limited to one touchdown. Jared Goff completed 24-of-45 passes for 259 yards and a score.

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Todd Gurley led all rushers with 101 yards on 14 carries for Los Angeles. Teammate Robert Woods paced the receivers with 142 yards on nine receptions. Cooper Kupp caught the touchdown pass.

Jones' 8-yard scoring catch gave the Falcons a 26-13 lead with 5:48 left.


The Rams opened the fourth quarter with Sam Ficken's 32-yard field goal as his second conversion inched L.A. to within 19-13.

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Bryant's final field goal and second of the third quarter was a 54-yarder that gave Atlanta a 19-10 cushion. His 25-yarder extended the Falcons' edge to 16-10 midway through the third quarter.

Ficken's 35-yard field goal in the first half's waning seconds got the Rams within 13-10.

The NFL's top offense finally got untracked when Goff hit rookie Kupp on a 14-yard scoring strike to pull the Rams to within 13-7 with 2:34 left in the first half after they were held scoreless in the first quarter for only the third time this season.

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Kupp drew single coverage and slipped behind the Falcons' secondary for an easy pitch-and-catch.

Freeman scored from 4 yards out to push Atlanta ahead 13-0 in the first quarter. The points came after Pharoh Cooper's second mishandled punt in the opening 14 minutes.

Bryant's 51-yard field goal was his second of the first quarter, giving the Falcons a 6-0 lead.

The Falcons took a 3-0 advantage off a Rams' special teams mistake. LaRoy Reynolds recovered a punt after it ricocheted first off the foot of Blake Countess and Cooper couldn't handle it as Atlanta converted the misplayed punt into Bryant's 29-yard field goal.


NOTES: Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, a former USC head coach, returned to the Coliseum. ... Rams DT Michael Brockers (knee) didn't play the second half. ... Los Angeles' Sean McVay became the youngest head coach (31 years old) to reach the playoffs. ... It was the Rams' first playoff game in the L.A. Coliseum since they fell to the Dallas Cowboys 28-0 in the 1978 NFC championship Game.

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