Unable to capitalize on the home-field advantage that had been serving them so well this season, the Rams received a sobering reality check in Week 11 from a Falcons team that appears to have much more legitimate playoff credentials in the form a 34-17 loss.
After losing for the first time at home since Week One in a game in which the Falcons scored the final 18 points, the 4-6 Rams now hit the road, where they have yet to win this season, for three consecutive games in Denver, Arizona and New Orleans.
With rookie QB Sam Bradford matching Atlanta’s Matt Ryan pass for pass, the Rams held their own with Atlanta for a good part of the game. At the end of the day, though, the Falcons’ edge in talent on both sides of the ball allowed them to pull away for their NFC-leading eighth victory.
A turning point for the Falcons might have come on an ill-advised shovel pass by Bradford with 3½ minutes remaining on 3rd-and goal from the Atlanta two-yard line with the Rams down 26-17. William Moore’s subsequent interception pretty much sealed the deal.
The way we see it
While it’s premature to say Bradford might have begun to shovel the dirt on an early grave for the Rams, the team’s three-game road trip couldn’t be coming at a more inopportune time, considering their problems away from home so far this season. As we’ve said before, however, the Rams’ salvation could be their residency in the NFC West, which confirmed just how weak it is with all four teams losing Sunday be an average score of 30-12.
Although his shovel-pass pick was a terrible blunder and he had more problems than usual on third down, Bradford continues to be a major plus, having set a rookie league record with 169 consecutive passes without an interception before Moore lessened the accomplishment.
But it won’t matter how Bradford performs the next three weeks if the offense can’t do a better job of coming through in short-yardage situations, and the defense fails to resurrect the potent pass rush (league-leading 28 sacks entering the game) that inexplicably disappeared against the Falcons to the tune of zero sacks.