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Other Week 18 Game Recaps

Week 18 Game Recap: Atlanta Falcons 26, Los Angeles Rams 13

What you need to know

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons got out to a 13-point lead in the first half because of two Rams turnovers on special teams. Matt Ryan was under constant pressure but consistently moved the offense after a slow start. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were both effective in spurts and Julio Jones moved the chains multiple times in key drives. Mohamed Sanu added long catch and run to key a scoring drive.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams had a hard time getting anything going in this game as most of this was due to a negative game script created by two Pharoah Cooper turnovers early in the game. Once the Falcons got out o an early lead, they sold out to stop Todd Gurley in the passing game daring the other Rams receivers to beat them one-on-one. Outside of Robert Woods who had a tremendous day, the Rams receivers struggled to consistently get open in this game which created issues as Gurley was often being double-teamed. Cooper Kupp did score a touchdown on a nice throw from Goff on a wheel route late in the first half to keep this game close. On the ground, Todd Gurley got off to a slow start and only had 14 carries in this game, but was able to break some long runs in the fourth quarter to get over 100 yards for the third straight week.

Atlanta Falcons

QB Matt Ryan, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 30 - 218 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 5 - 0
Ryan wasn't able to get much going early, as the Rams strong rush flushed him from the pocket. He was unable to make big plays downfield with the exception of one extended play, but Ryan was solid in the short game to put together scoring drives, including one long drive in the third quarter to accelerate the outcome of the game. Ryan converted a fourth-down quarterback sneak on the drive. He made an excellent touch throw on the score to Julio Jones to lead him away from coverage. Ryan played more than well enough for the team to win this game,

RB Devonta Freeman, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 66 - 1, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)
Freeman scored one of Atlanta's two touchdowns with a very strong goal line run that included a won collision and strong leg drive to push through a would-be tackler to the end zone. He was a big part of the long drive in the third quarter, including a long run that saw him bowl over a tackler and drag him for extra yardage.

RB Tevin Coleman, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 40 - 0, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (3 targets)
Coleman had only modest gains to start, but he contributed a third and long conversion later on with a rare broken tackle. Coleman also set a goal to go situation with strong play in the third quarter and helped fuel a field goal drive with effective running.

WR Julio Jones, Rush: 1 - 13 - 0, Rec: 9 - 94 - 1 (10 targets)
Jones was a mainstay in the offense and was a big part of two drives, along with finishing another with a score. He had back to back big plays on a field goal drive in the first quarter, including an end around. He also had two big plays to get the team into Rams territory on a third quarter field goal drive. Jones had two receptions on goal to go downs that were unsuccessful before finally scoring in the second half on a play that had him go across the formation after the snap. He ran under a perfectly placed floater by Matt Ryan that led him away from coverage for the score.

WR Mohamed Sanu, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 75 - 0 (8 targets)
Sanu was part of the short passing game to get drives going and convert third downs. He also had a very long catch and run play on a screen where he just took off straight after an accurate pass and advanced the ball deep into the Rams end of the field.

TE Austin Hooper, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (5 targets)
Hooper made small contributions in the short game, including a reception to set up first and goal. He had an end zone target, but it was just off and fell incomplete.

Los Angeles Rams

QB Jared Goff, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 45 - 259 - 1 TD / 0 INT
Goff struggled throughout this game with being able to put consistent drives together as he appeared bothered and thrown off when his check-down to Gurley was not available as it had been the past few weeks. Goff did look more composed in the second half, adjusting to the defense and pairing up with Robert Woods instead of quickly looking to check down to Gurley as he did in the first half, but overall this is going to be something he is going to need to work on heading into the off-season as if teams game plan to take Gurley away which Atlanta did, how will Goff respond will be the question.

RB Todd Gurley, 62 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 101 - 0, Rec: 4 - 10 - 0 (10 targets)
Gurley in the first half had very little going as he was taken out of the game due to stacked boxes and the Falcons put Keanu Neal as a spy on Gurley for most of the night instead of doing what most teams have done and put a linebacker on him. After a rough first half, Gurley was able to get it going in the late parts of the second half once the defense backed off the stacked boxes and Gurley was able to pick up some big plays once he got out into space on a 33-yard run in which Gurley remained patient for the hole to develop and once it was there he used his speed and power to hit the hole and was not touched for the first 20 yards of the run. From a receiving standpoint, Gurley had a tough go of it in this one as the aforementioned Keanu Neal did a great job preventing Gurley who had ten targets from doing anything with them as Gurley did catch four passes but was hit almost immediately each time he caught the ball.

WR Robert Woods, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 142 - 0 (14 targets)
Robert Woods was tremendous in this game as he was a major reason that this game remained close as Gurley struggled in the first half. Woods got back to the role that he was playing pre-injury in which he was more than just a possession receiver as he was also running deep routes down the field and was the primary focus lining up on the right side of the field which is Goff's preferred side to throw from. Woods' best catch of the day was a full-extension diving catch with 35 seconds left in the first quarter for a 40-yard completion that set the Rams up for a field goal right before the end of the half.

WR Cooper Kupp, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 69 - 1 (13 targets)
It took a while for Kupp to get going in this game as he was relatively quiet for the first 28 minutes of the game or so. With two minutes left in the half, Kupp scored a much-needed touchdown for the Rams on a play in which almost looked like a wheel route as he acted as if he was going to the flat for his first several steps and then turned up field on a play in which he was wide open. The second half when the Rams were behind, they utilized Kupp more than what they did in the first half, but the overall results were mediocre as he was primarily used as a possession receiver with short underneath safe routes.

WR Sammy Watkins, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 23 - 0 (4 targets)
Watkins was largely a non-factor in this game, and his entire game could be summed up by a critical drop that he had on fourth and goal with two minutes left to go in the game that would have scored a touchdown to keep the Rams in the game, but Watkins was unable to hold on. He was very sparingly used as while he was on the field he was primarily used as a decoy running deep routes for most of the game. They did look for him on the quick slant play we have seen so many times this year from inside the ten, but if we have noticed it throughout the year, Atlanta was all over it and sniffed it out from the start.