Rams' Barron, Cooper active for playoff meeting with Falcons

Rams' Barron, Cooper active for playoff meeting with Falcons

The Eagles last faced the Falcons in a November 2016 regular-season matchup and won by a score of 24-15. Quarterback Matt Ryan, who hails from Exton, Pennsylvania and played his high school ball at Philadelphia's Penn Charter, won NFL MVP honors but completed just 18 of 33 passes for 267 yards that day with a touchdown and an interception for a season-low 78.7 passer rating. It's a break for the Falcons, who most likely won't face as much a challenge trying to slow down Nick Foles, the Eagles' new starter.

The Falcons' experience in the playoffs could come into play.

Atlanta scored the first points of the night on a Rams blunder on special teams. Those turnovers led to 10 points. Sanu had four catches for 75 yards, highlighted by the 52-yarder.

In an on-field interview after the game, Matt Ryan laughed when asked how the game had compared to the Falcons' hard season. But what makes them even more unsafe now is the way the defense has played.

The Falcons know they can outscore anyone despite seeing more than a 10-point drop-off in their scoring average from a year ago. Only six Rams players have ever been in postseason games.

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Los Angeles was trailing 26-13 and had one more chance to pull within a touchdown of the Falcons.

The Falcons made plays on the ball, led by cornerbacks Robert Alford, Desmond Trufant and linebacker Deion Jones. And they tackled well, none better than what nickelback Brian Poole showed in the open field.

The Falcons dominated time of possession, 37:35-22:25, and a pair of clock-chewing drives in the second half resulted in field goals before Matt Ryan floated a eight-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones with 5:48 remaining to put the game out of reach.

The ghosts of the Super Bowl collapse could hardly be exorcised by one playoff win, but the perseverance the Falcons showed in Los Angeles should give them something to build on. And like they've said for the past few weeks, everything they want is still right in front of them.

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