The Los Angeles Rams haven’t always been a winning franchise - they were among the worst in the NFL in terms of wins and losses during the 2000’s and 2010’s.
Though in recent years the team has been competitive a earned berths to two Super Bowls, this still is not a franchise that can begrudgingly accept ugly victories - a win is still a win and that’s all that counts for the Rams.
After taking a commanding 28-3 lead surrendering said lead was probably the last outcome on anyone’s mind - especially to an Atlanta Falcons team that is improved but not a legitimate contender.
There were a number of individual performances that went into building that lead, and also several that contributed to letting the Falcons back into this game.
Jalen Ramsey, CB
It wasn’t the best start to the game for the star corner - he was penalized for defensive pass interference early, which negated an interception by safety Nick Scott.
But star players are considered stars because they make the plays in the biggest situations, and Ramsey intercepted Marcus Mariota at the goal line to dash the Falcons’ comeback hopes. This was an impressive bounce back effort after it seemed Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills were picking on him a week ago.
AJ Jackson, OL
With Brian Allen injured at center, Coleman Shelton slide inside and Tremayne Anchrum took his place at right guard. But Anchrum was injured early in the game, which resulted in Jackson being the next man up. The second year undrafted player usually plays tackle, but he filled in admirably inside at guard.
Jackson is a plus run defender and he held up well in pass protection Sunday afternoon. Allen will miss at least another game, so this is an encouraging development for LA.
Justin Hollins, OLB
The Falcons were driving late in the fourth quarter with the opportunity to steal the lead away from the Rams. Mariota pulled the ball on a read-option type play, but he ended up running into the waiting arms of Hollins for a four-yard loss to set up 3rd and 13. The very next play Ramsey intercepted Mariota.
The Rams did their best to burn time off the clock, but the Falcons were left with one last play. Hollins sacked Mariota and forced a fumble - sealing the victory for Los Angeles.
Ernest Jones, ILB
Jones had a team-leading 12 total tackles and veteran Bobby Wagner seems to be making quite the impression on the second-year linebacker.
Cobie Durant, CB
The rookie corner came in the game to replace an injured Troy Hill - and he immediately made his presence felt. Durant intercepted Mariota and added on a 50+ yard return. It was kind of a case of being in the right place at the right time, but he still deserves credit for making the play.
Durant also recorded a sack on Mariota.
Allen Robinson, WR
After recording only one catch in his first game as a Ram, Robinson was much more involved in Week 2. He accumulated 4 receptions on 5 targets for 53 yards and a touchdown - and he could have had another touchdown but there was an official’s timeout that stopped the play after it started.
It’s a step in the right direction for Robinson, and he will probably have more productive outings over the course of this season.
Allen Robinson. So back pic.twitter.com/W68u9YUap6— Onward State (@OnwardState) September 18, 2022
The Falcons probably wouldn’t have gotten back into this game if it weren’t for a blocked Riley Dixon punt in Rams territory that was returned for a touchdown. LA’s special teams have struggled in recent years, but they largely improved over the second half of the 2021 season. Winning teams can’t make these mistakes often.
Robert Rochell, CB
Rochell was billed as a steal in the fourth round of last year’s draft - he’s athletic, big, and talented.
So when Hill was already out of the game and David Long, Jr. injured his shoulder, you’d expect Rochell to be ready to step right in; however, he gave up a touchdown to Drake London which was the first step in a Falcons’ come back attempt.
It’s fair to expect more out of the second-year corner.
Matthew Stafford, QB
Matthew Stafford played well enough for the Rams to win. He largely distributed the ball well in the first half, though stagnated a bit in the second.
A red zone shot to a blanketed Tyler Higbee was intercepted by Atlanta - it was an egregious mistake by the quarterback and maybe a sign of over aggression.
Stafford threw a second interception over the middle to Mykal Walker, but that throw was more excusable than the first turnover.
At a minimum, five interceptions through two games are a concern for the veteran quarterback - and it’s a departure from the clean football we saw him play over the team’s playoff run last season. Stafford has the ability to play better, and it’s fair to expect more from him.