In truth, the Rams played the now 8-2 Falcons tougher than the 34-17 score would indicate, but the loss snapped a four-game home winning streak and they now face a three-game road trip that could determine whether they are able to remain in the division race.
The Rams have yet to win away from home this season, and three of the four losses have been by a total of six points. Denver is up next, followed by division rival Arizona and then New Orleans.
With losses Sunday, the 5-5 Seahawks stay one game ahead of the Rams, while Arizona and San Francisco are one game behind the Rams.
Said defensive tackle Fred Robbins, "We just keep fighting because we still are in it. We are hurting ourselves and we have to do a better job of handling the mistakes we make. We have to keep playing hard because the division is still wide open so we can't quit now."
Added running back Steven Jackson, "We have a very tough three-game stretch on the road coming up, starting off with Denver. First things first, is that we need to continue to try to execute the details of the game. As an offense, we need to be able to stay in a rhythm more, stay on the field, help our defense out, and help Sam (quarterback Sam Bradford). Sam is doing a good job, especially when executing the hurry-up offense. I think he did a good job there. But just overall, as an offense we need to cut out some of the penalties that we had."
The Rams hung tough with the Falcons, despite Atlanta's big advantage in time of possession (35:55 to 24:05) and plays 70-54. Until a drive in the fourth quarter that ended with an interception on a play that began at the Atlanta 2-yard line, the Rams had run just eight plays in Falcons territory, while Atlanta had 37 plays in Rams territory. But three times, the Rams stopped the Falcons in the red zone and held them to field goals of 29, 24 and 21 yards, which kept the game within reach.
TRENDING: The Rams were just 1-for-10 on third-down conversions, and their only success came late in the fourth quarter. At one point, going back to the week before when they failed on their last seven third downs, the Rams hadn't converted 13 consecutive third-down plays.
Said QB Sam Bradford, "I think that all comes down to what we do on first and second down. We've got to keep ourselves out of third-and-long. Get ourselves into third-and-manageable, third-and-short. And then when we do get to third-and-short or third-and-manageable, we've got to be able to keep ourselves on the field. I feel like that's an area, probably during the early to middle part of the season, we did a very good job of and it's just something that we have struggled with as of late."
BY THE NUMBERS: An intercepted shovel pass snapped a streak of 169 consecutive passes without an interception by Bradford. He now holds club rookie records for attempts (376), completions (228) and is third in yardage (2,158).
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
-- LT Rodger Saffold, who injured his ankle last week against San Francisco, suffered a shoulder injury late in Sunday's game against Atlanta, and was scheduled to have an MRI to assess the seriousness of the injury.
-- CB Bradley Fletcher was back in the starting lineup after Kevin Dockery started in his place the week before against San Francisco. According to press-box statistics, Fletcher tied for second on the team with seven tackles and also had a tackle for loss and pass defenses.
-- CB Kevin Dockery, who started instead of Bradley Fletcher the week before against San Francisco and was beat early on two long pass plays, was inactive for Sunday's game against Atlanta.
-- S James Butler practiced during the week as he recovered from an ankle injury, but he was inactive for Sunday's game against the Falcons.
-- WR Danario Alexander participated in snaps with the first unit in practice during the week, but was inactive for Sunday's game against Atlanta.