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Three plays that changed the game in Rams win over Falcons

The Los Angeles Rams held on to win 31-27 against the Falcons. Here are three plays that changed the game.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams got back on track on Sunday, defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 31-27. It was far from a straight-forward victory, but it was enough to come away with a win.

In a game as close as this one, it usually comes down to a handful of plays that decide who wins or loses. Here are three plays that changed the game in the Rams’ win over the Falcons.

(00:39 - 2nd QTR), 3rd-and-10 from LAR 44

The Falcons had a chance to score right before the half and cut into the Rams’ 14-3 lead. Even a field goal at this point would have made it a one-score game. Matthew Stafford just threw his first interception and after a pass interference penalty on David Long, the Falcons were driving and had some momentum.

This was more of a “right place, right time” interception by Cobie Durant. However, the turnover and ensuing return put the Rams offense in position to double-up going into the half. Three plays following the interception, Stafford found Kupp in the back of the end zone to go up 21-3.

The offense would score again to open the second half and take a 28-3 lead. Potentially 14-6 going into the half, quickly turned into 21-3.

On 2nd-and-10 for the Falcons, the Rams had a 90.8 percent chance to win the game. Following the interception and ensuing touchdown, that jumped to 98 percent to open the third quarter according to ESPN analytics.

(3:32 - 4th QTR), 3rd-and-4 from LAR 31

It was at this point where you began to wonder how the Rams got to this point. They led just 31-25 with under four-minutes to play. Only 10-minutes prior, the Rams led 31-10 to open the fourth quarter. At this point, the hope was that the offense would be able to take the field and officially put a close on the game.

Facing a 3rd-and-4, the Rams needed to pick up a first down to avoid going three-and-out. When Stafford found Kupp over the middle, many thought the game was probably over. Unfortunately Kupp fumbled, Ben Skowronek and Allen Robinson were unable to jump on the loose ball, and the Falcons recovered.

Would the Falcons actually come back from a 28-3 deficit?

On this play alone, the Rams lost 13 points of win probability. They went from having an 84.2 percent chance to win to 71.5 percent. Needing a touchdown to win and having over three minutes on the clock, the Falcons took over at the Rams’ 37 yard-line.

(1:17 - 4th QTR), 3rd-and-13 from LAR 24

An underrated play in this sequence is Justin Hollins sacking Mariota coming out of the two-minute warning. Instead of 3rd-and-medium, the Falcons faced 3rd-and-13 and needed a last-ditch effort to pull off the comeback.

At this point, Mariota didn't necessarily need to take a shot down the field. He had options underneath to set up a manageable fourth down. However, needing 13 yards, it’s possible Mariota felt he needed to take the shot. This likely doesn't happen if the Falcons instead have 3rd-and-6.

Not many players took as much heat as Jalen Ramsey did last week. Earlier in the game, he also took a pass interference penalty. However, in the big moments, Ramsey continues to show why he’s a top cornerback.

Sunday marked Ramsey’s fourth interception in the fourth quarter over the last two years. Last season, he intercepted Jacob Eason and Jared Goff in the fourth quarter in games that ended in wins. He also intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 18 that helped the Rams take a late lead before eventually losing.

Bryan Edwards had a chance at this ball and had he been a top wide receiver, he might have caught it. Instead, Ramsey went up and over Edwards to steal the ball and clinch the game.

A final important aspect of this play is Aaron Donald. Immediately off the snap, Donald beats his guy and subsequently pushes Cordarrelle Patterson into Mariota. Edwards is open on this play and if he doesn’t get hit, Mariota likely delivers a more accurate ball.

Instead, Donald pushes Patterson into Mariota as he throws which forces the ball to flutter and sail high. The ball sails over Edwards, giving Ramsey a chance to go steal it over the top.

On this play, the Rams went from having an 81.4 percent win probability to 96.3.