Admit, you thought the Rams were headed for the usual outcome when the Falcons made the QB switch to Redman and immediately put up 16 points. The Rams offense tried their best to help them out with a bleak series of three and out possessions that silenced the crowd...more so.
Here are a few more quick and hasty thoughts I took away from the game...in bullet points!
Once again, the defense responded well despite missing two important cogs: Pisa and James Hall. Carriker switched back and forth from DE to DT, and the transition never seemed to bother him in the least bit. Once again, the defense compensated for injured players by setting up a relentless, aggressive attack on the highly suspect Harrington. Four players, four sacks, forcing the Falcons lost in the wilderness offense to try and come up with big plays to convert third and long situations. Carriker's sack at the beggining of the second quarter couldn't have been better scripted by a striking writer: Harrington sacked on 2nd and 9, setting up 3rd and 15; Falcons go out of the shotgun, a five yard, over the middle pass to Roddy White who fumbles it upon tangling up with much maligned Ron Bartell; Bartell recovers...
- ...and the Rams have a quick three and out. D'oh. However, the defense managed to prevent Atlanta from taking advantage of that three and out (and another one that followed on the next possession). And a big reason for that was the play of the defensive backfield. The Rams safeties and corners maintained excellent coverage all day. Roddy White raked up quite a few yards, but some of that's a given seeing how much Haslett employed the blitz.
- For all the befuddlement we've experienced watching Linehan call games; it must be even worse for Falcons fans. Why isn't Jerious Norwood their starting running back. Eight carries for 94 yards, his speed would have chipped away at the effectiveness of the Rams blitz. I remain confident that Carriker and Ryan in front, with Andeyanju on the end would have ultimately limited Norwood's effectiveness - note that Dunn's power runs were very unproductive - but this approach might have exposed some of the backups in key roles for the Rams.
Let's not fool ourselves, Atlanta gets some of the credit for the Rams win. I haven't seen such offensive ineptitude since the 49ers game...or the Rams in the second half of so many games this season.
No jitters, no rust, no existential crisis about being a third stringer. It was impressive to see Redman come into the game making quick, accurate passes as though he'd been playing all season. He completed five passes in a row, not missing one until Roddy White bobbles the catch on the two point conversion. Apparently, he was selling insurance this time last year.
Linehan just doesn't impress, does he? Did you notice the way Haslett grabbed the reigns on Wade's illegal touch penalty on the punt to end the third quarter? Besides hearing some, uh, passionate language thanks to the accidental proximity of a microphone that scuttled the game's 'G' rating, you wonder if that clip might be an unofficial addition to his head coaching resume.
Finally, how could you discuss a Rams game without updating the Linehan Ax Watch? The Rams won a game they should have won, so Linehan doesn't get extra points for an upset, like he would have with a win over Seattle last week. And as much as it looked like it was going to be a blow out with the offense finally showing us a teaser of what could have been, the game almost slipped out of our hands, thanks in part to some more confusing play calling. The second half started to resemble so many other second halves this season, with the Rams fingers slowly but surely slipping from the rungs of victory. Give Atlanta some credit, they sniffed out possibility and tried to capitalize. Must have been the lack of crowd noise, huh? Also, don't overlook the fact that the o-line did a miserable job all day of run blocking. Still, the team took a 21-0 lead into the second half and buoyed spirits were let down by the failure to maintain the initiative. That shouldn't happen. Three wins are better than our prospects after eight games of Waiting for Godot, but I don't think there's anything short of a miracle that can convince me the Rams don't need to make some major changes, on the field and in the suites.