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Keys to the Game: Atlanta

By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

Posted Nov 19, 2010

1. Getting Rowdy With Roddy

The Rams have seen their share of top notch wideouts in 2010, not the least of which is regular foe Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona. But no receiver on the slate is having the type of season currently being had by Atlantas dynamic Roddy White.

White is putting up MVP type numbers with a league leading 70 catches and NFC leading 934 receiving yards to go with his seven touchdowns.

The onus of covering the speedy and athletic White will likely fall to Rams cornerback Ron Bartell. Bartell has been know to rise to the level of his opponent as Fitzgerald often cites him as one of the leagues best at defending him.

Regardless, its a tall order for any cornerback in the league.

I think he has a real knack for going up and getting the football when its thrown to him, defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. Some guys just seem to have that special trait. I think the quarterback has a high comfort level with the guy. I think in clutch situations he probably looks for that guy. I think they have a great rapport in the passing game.

Still, how well the Rams can contain White will go a long way in determining who comes out on top.

2. Running in Place

While White has emerged as one of the games most dangerous receivers, the Falcons remain committed to establishing the running game to set up the pass.

Of course, thats an easy conclusion to come to when you have a pair of talented backs like Michael Turner and Jason Snelling.

Turner has 733 yards, fourth in the NFC, through Atlantas first nine games to go with five touchdowns. The last time the Rams and Falcons played at the end of the 2008 season, Turner rushed for 208 yards on 25 carries.

Snelling doesnt garner as much attention but has been downright effective in his own right. He has rushed for 291 yards and two touchdowns with 28 more catches for 181 yards and two more scores.

I tell you what, its tough to slow those guys down, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. We watched some clips this morning as a team. Turner is…youre talking about a guy that runs low to the ground, makes you miss or people bounce off of him. Hes a solid running back. Well have to go back to the same things we always do. Its no different here than anywhere else on defense. Its run fits, its making sure you tackle low, making sure you get a lot of guys around the ball carrier, and try to pull the ball out.

3. Ball Control

Its not breaking new ground to say that a big reason for the Falcons 7-2 start is based on their propensity for coming up with turnovers and not giving the ball away.

Through nine games, Atlanta ranks second in the NFL at plus-9 in turnover margin. Making matters worse, the Falcons have been proficient at turning those takeaways into points.

On their 19 takeaways, the Falcons have mustered 63 points meaning the Rams must find a way to continue to take care of the ball. Theyve turned it over just once in the past four games.

Likewise, the Falcons defense has been stout at limiting opponents to points after the offense has given the ball up. Atlanta has turned it over just 10 times this year and opponents have only converted those into 22 points.

Quarterback Sam Bradford must find a way to continue to only hit his teammates with his passes against a ball hawking secondary thats come up with league best 14 interceptions.

I think they cover ground and their secondarys good, Bradford said. Their corners are going to play aggressive; theyre going to take chances. So were going to have to be careful in the way we attack them and get after them.

4. Melting Matty Ice

There might not be a more talented young quarterback in the league than Atlantas Matt Ryan.

Also known as Matty Ice, Ryan is a burgeoning star in his third year in the league and seems to get better every week.

Hes in his third year, and hes where youd probably expect a third-year quarterback with his kind of talent as hes playing real well managing the game for them, Flajole said.

This season, Ryan has thrown for 2,265 yards with a completion percentage of 62.7, 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions for a rating of 91.9.

Ryan has been at his absolute best late in games, throwing four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter when his team is either winning or trailing by seven or less points.

The Rams must continue to find ways to generate a pass rush they are tied for first in the NFL with 28 sacks and put the pressure on Ryan in hopes of forcing him into a mistake or two.

5. Closing It Out

The Rams have come tantalizingly close to winning four of the five games theyve lost this season. In nearly every one of those games, you could simply pick one play in which the outcome turned out different and the Rams would probably have picked up the win.

The Falcons have also had their share of close games as well but they continue to find ways to win those contests. In six of Atlantas nine games, the Falcons have had final margins within one possession. Theyve won five of those games.

At the heart of the issue is Atlantas ability to finish games strong. While the Rams have been outscored 53-35 in the fourth quarter this year, the Falcons have dominated opponents with a margin of 49-16, the second best fourth quarter differential in the league.

(Weve got to) make those one or two plays, Spagnuolo said. Theres not a big dissection here. Im not going to come up with a revolutionary answer. Thats all it is. And were not looking for any.

For the Rams to bounce back from last weeks close loss, theyll probably have to find a way to win what figures to be another close game.


Edited by FalconFanSince1970
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Great article find, FFS70. This really helps. I don't know why I give a d@mn about what the media talking heads are saying (or not saying) about my Birds, when the OPPONENTS are giving us this much respect. THESE are the guys who truly know what they are talking about... The guys who are playing/preparing for the Falcons.

THEY seem to know who they are going against!

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Good read. Though I think he must've missed the game against the Ravens. We showed we are not committed to running the ball to setup the pass. Obviously we would prefer to run to setup the pass. Every team would. But that game is a prime example of us willing to throw to setup the run. I think as an offense we have turned a corner where we stay committed to whatever works. In the past we would continue to run the ball even when it wasn't working. I don't think that's the case anymore. I the defense shows they are committed to stopping the run, we will pass.

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Keys to the Game: Atlanta

By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

Posted Nov 19, 2010

Likewise, the Falcons defense has been stout at limiting opponents to points after the offense has given the ball up. Atlanta has turned it over just 10 times this year and opponents have only converted those into 22 points.


That is a very impressive stat

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