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What we learned following the Rams loss to the Falcons

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Welp. That sucked.

Wild Card Round - Atlanta Falcons v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Falcons are seasoned and the real deal

Despite the field conditions and Ed Hochuli and his big dumb muscles, the Atlanta Falcons executed plays throughout four quarters.

Both teams were struggling with the new turf that was laid down just for this game. But it was the Falcons who managed to put drives together before QB Matt Ryan and company switched to longer cleats.

The best part of the Falcons offense is obviously QB Matt Ryan and the passing game. But the Falcons were able to seamlessly switch gears in their offense. RB’s Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to chip away at the Rams run-defense. Both backs averaged less than 4 yards-per-carry, but their runs were long enough to keep drives alive.

Rams mistakes were costly

The Rams made two turnovers throughout the game, but they proved to be the most costly. The Falcons gained favorable starting spots following the turnovers and ultimately constructed scoring drives.

The first turnover was—in my opinion—the only turnover you can really blame on the Rams. When the punt was coming down, the return team should have had better awareness of the ball. Cooper was waiving off the ball to let it bounce. But the ball came down off the foot, making it a free ball. It was a clumsy mistake to say the least.

But the turnovers weren’t limited to fumbles. Goff and the offense made too many mistakes with dropped passes, fumbles, and stuffed runs. Gurley had a couple of big runs, and the rest of the game he was being met at or behind the line of scrimmage and fighting for extra yards.

The defense was the most reliable unit on Saturday night

Normally, it’s the offense doing the brunt work while the defense makes sure the offense’s work isn’t for naught.

But on Saturday night, the defense was tasked with holding onto the game while QB Jared Goff and the Rams played catch-up. The Falcons offense finished near the bottom 10 in the league for overall offense, but in the last month leading to the postseason, the Falcons offense played good enough to just get by.

They didn’t light up the scoreboard because they didn’t need to. The defense was holding the Rams offense all night. Ryan and company took their time orchestrating drives and their small cuts added up.

There is still a silver lining in all of this

Yeah, it sucks to get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, especially at home. But this is a young Rams team that—offensively—put up virtually the same statistical performance. A few mistakes taken away, and you have a different ball game.

Sean McVay finished his first year with a winning record, a division title, and a playoff berth. That’s a lifetime achievement in Jeff Fisher years.

It only goes up from here.