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Disrespected Rams big underdogs vs. rock-solid Falcons

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  • Disrespected Rams big underdogs vs. rock-solid Falcons

    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist


    Talk about your classic playoff scenarios . . .

    On one hand, you have the resurgent Rams. After a season-long struggle with injuries, lineup shuffling and generally poor execution, the Rams won their last two regular-season games and beat Seattle in the wild-card playoff round.

    On the other hand, you have the rock-solid Atlanta Falcons. They parlayed a strong rushing game and an aggressive defense to score old-school success during the regular season.

    The Rams are the massive underdogs, since they were 6-8 just three weeks ago and headed toward a major overhaul.

    The Falcons have been one of the NFL’s feel-good stories, with exciting Michael Vick breaking out at quarterback and Jim Mora emerging as the league’s brightest young coach.

    The Rams must venture back onto the road, albeit to play in an environment much like their own at the Edward Jones Dome. But the Falcons will have a potentially disruptive crowd working for them as Rams coach Mike Martz tries to orchestrate his offense.

    The Falcons feature a physical defense that forced 32 turnovers this season. The Rams are the most mistake-prone team to EVER reach postseason play; their minus-24 turnover ratio is the worst any playoff-bound team has recorded.

    The Rams still have issues along their offensive line, where left guard Tom Nutten has been attempting to hold the fort on one leg. The Falcons will attack with a talented front four, led by Rod Coleman, Patrick Kerney and Brady Smith.

    The Falcons feature a three-pronged ground game, with the speedy Vick, the elusive Warrick Dunn and bruising T.J. Duckett. The Rams have only recently improved their rushing defense; earlier this season the Falcons ran the ball 38 times for 242 yards while rolling toward a 34-17 victory in the Georgia Dome.

    The Rams can play pitch and catch all day, especially indoors on artificial turf. Earlier this season at Atlanta, quarterback Marc Bulger completed 24 of 31 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown.

    They have revived their four wide-out attack, thanks to the development of young receivers Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald, and Bulger can also throw to both running backs and both tight ends.

    On the other hand, the Rams rushed for just 30 yards on 15 carries during that loss to the Falcons and now running backs Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson are trying to play hurt.

    Both teams are just glad to be in this game. The Falcons raised expectations by rolling to a division title, but they are still an upstart. The Rams slid into the playoffs through the back door, so they, too, see this as a gravy game.

    The Falcons played their back-ups for much of their last two games, to protect their battered stars from further injury. Then they enjoyed a bye weekend. The Rams, by contrast, have won three games during that same time frame to become a better and more confident team.

    Mora is getting lots of great media coverage after bursting onto the head-coaching scene in style. Many experts hate Martz and continue to campaign for his dismissal.

    All week we’ll hear that the Rams are mediocre, the Rams are soft, the Rams are nothing like the “Greatest Show on Turf.”

    Perfect. Players thrive on the “no respect” angle and the Rams will feel much disrespect this week. Players need rallying points -– and there will be no shortage at Rams Park as the national media dogs Mad Mike and his troops.

    Oh, and there is one more thing. Martz and Mora have an intense personal rivalry dating back to Jim’s days on the ***** staff.

    Will Mad Mike hit just the right tactical notes to beat his nemesis? Or will he try too hard and take his team down a funky and futile path.

    Stay tuned. This matchup will be a blast

  • #2
    Re: Disrespected Rams big underdogs vs. rock-solid Falcons

    I agree with that last part, this matchup should be a blast. However, I don't see how the Rams feel more disrespect than the Falcons. They're not the favorites but then again, the Falcons have been questioned from preseason to now and still no one believes they are nearly that good. Personally both teams have reasons to be "disrespected" (which is over-emphasized IMHO) so that only makes for a more interesting matchup.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Disrespected Rams big underdogs vs. rock-solid Falcons

      I didn't realize that Martz and Mora had such a rivalry...

      as joe horn once said:

      "isn't a rivalry where you win one, we win one?"

      The 4d9'ers never really won any vs. Martz?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Disrespected Rams big underdogs vs. rock-solid Falcons

        Originally posted by sbramfan
        I didn't realize that Martz and Mora had such a rivalry...

        as joe horn once said:

        "isn't a rivalry where you win one, we win one?"

        The 4d9'ers never really won any vs. Martz?
        Overall, during Mora's tenure as DC the ***** were 2 and 8 against the Rams and gave up an average of 30 PPG

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Disrespected Rams big underdogs vs. rock-solid Falcons

          You make it sound like a grudge match for Martz and Mora.I was just reading a piece on the falcons website at NFL.com.they have an interview with Mora,and hes talks about how much he respects MIke Martz.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Disrespected Rams big underdogs vs. rock-solid Falcons

            I like being the underdogs.

            Mora has been also quoted as saying he figured out Martz scheme and knows how to beat him.

            __________________________________________________________
            Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

            Comment

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            • RamWraith
              Rams' season closes with a rush
              by RamWraith
              By Bryan Burwell
              Of the Post-Dispatch
              Sunday, Jan. 16 2005

              ATLANTA - At the end of this draining night in Georgia, inside the visitor's
              locker room in the lower reaches of the Georgia Dome, the Rams' traveling
              football show was ready to close down. Down the hall in the upbeat Atlanta
              Falcons locker room, little kids with footballs and Michael Vick jerseys darted
              back and forth getting autographs from their hometown heroes. Players checked
              their cell phone voice mails, and perused the gaudy stat sheet that gave all
              the gory details of their 47-17 rout of the Rams in Saturday night's NFC
              conference semifinal playoff.

              The Falcons' dazzling show is still playing to rave reviews this morning. The
              NFC South champs are on their way to the NFC Championship Game, and they are
              brimming with a verve and confidence that only dominant victories like this can
              bring. Yet here inside the Rams' subdued visiting quarters, the show was
              closing down for the season. Equipment men packed all the pads and helmets,
              jerseys, tape and footballs into large trunks and shoved them onto waiting
              moving vans. The glum-faced front-office brass milled quietly around the room,
              shaking hands with players and offering soothing words of comfort. The players
              quietly stuffed their belongings into expensive leather carry-alls, then tried
              to make sense of this abrupt and decisive destruction at the hands of the
              Falcons.

              "I just knew we were going to do better than that," Leonard Little said as he
              leaned against his locker stall. "I swear, we practiced against every single
              play they ran. We knew every scheme they threw at us. I just don't get how it
              turned out so bad."

              From start to finish, there was scant evidence that the Rams had a clue that
              they knew what they were doing against the Falcons. If you believe in
              premonitions, maybe the Rams should have known what was in store for them from
              the beginning of the stunning pre-game pyrotechnics that were so hot they could
              singe eyebrows from 50 yards away.

              The Falcons came jogging out of the Dome end zone tunnel for pre-game
              introductions to the dazzling fanfare of exploding fireworks, giant
              flame-throwing torches and throbbing hip-hop music that was so loud and so cool
              that it turned this rowdy place into a giant domed dance club.

              Oh, if only that was the extent of the explosions. But unfortunately for the
              Rams, the biggest bangs and most devastating detonations on this night were not
              reserved solely for the pre-game festivities. From start to finish, the Falcons
              detonated creative pyrotechnics in all of the very familiar weak spots of the
              Rams.

              We all...
              -01-17-2005, 05:54 AM
            • RamDez
              Rams' season closes with a rush
              by RamDez
              Rams' season closes with a rush
              By Bryan Burwell
              Of the Post-Dispatch
              Sunday, Jan. 16 2005

              ATLANTA - At the end of this draining night in Georgia, inside the visitor's
              locker room in the lower reaches of the Georgia Dome, the Rams' traveling
              football show was ready to close down. Down the hall in the upbeat Atlanta
              Falcons locker room, little kids with footballs and Michael Vick jerseys darted
              back and forth getting autographs from their hometown heroes. Players checked
              their cell phone voice mails, and perused the gaudy stat sheet that gave all
              the gory details of their 47-17 rout of the Rams in Saturday night's NFC
              conference semifinal playoff.

              The Falcons' dazzling show is still playing to rave reviews this morning. The
              NFC South champs are on their way to the NFC Championship Game, and they are
              brimming with a verve and confidence that only dominant victories like this can
              bring. Yet here inside the Rams' subdued visiting quarters, the show was
              closing down for the season. Equipment men packed all the pads and helmets,
              jerseys, tape and footballs into large trunks and shoved them onto waiting
              moving vans. The glum-faced front-office brass milled quietly around the room,
              shaking hands with players and offering soothing words of comfort. The players
              quietly stuffed their belongings into expensive leather carry-alls, then tried
              to make sense of this abrupt and decisive destruction at the hands of the
              Falcons.

              "I just knew we were going to do better than that," Leonard Little said as he
              leaned against his locker stall. "I swear, we practiced against every single
              play they ran. We knew every scheme they threw at us. I just don't get how it
              turned out so bad."

              From start to finish, there was scant evidence that the Rams had a clue that
              they knew what they were doing against the Falcons. If you believe in
              premonitions, maybe the Rams should have known what was in store for them from
              the beginning of the stunning pre-game pyrotechnics that were so hot they could
              singe eyebrows from 50 yards away.

              The Falcons came jogging out of the Dome end zone tunnel for pre-game
              introductions to the dazzling fanfare of exploding fireworks, giant
              flame-throwing torches and throbbing hip-hop music that was so loud and so cool
              that it turned this rowdy place into a giant domed dance club.

              Oh, if only that was the extent of the explosions. But unfortunately for the
              Rams, the biggest bangs and most devastating detonations on this night were not
              reserved solely for the pre-game festivities. From start to finish, the Falcons
              detonated creative pyrotechnics in all of the very familiar weak spots of the
              Rams.

              We all knew this...
              -01-16-2005, 04:47 AM
            • RamsInfiniti
              Rams matchup well with conservative Falcons
              by RamsInfiniti
              The Atlanta Falcons are 7-2. They are a good football team. They are well-coached and disciplined, and poised to make a run into the playoffs in 2010.

              What the Falcons lack are the so-called "impressive" wins. When we talk about "impressive" wins, we speak of games won by 10 points or more. Sure, they destoryed the Arizona Cardinals, but other than that game, the Falcons have found themselves in a nail-biter in most instances.

              Why are the Falcons struggling to pull away from opponents? Simply put, they are ultra-conservative. Overall, this team could be more conservative than, gulp, our very own St. Louis Rams.

              Looking at the Falcons on offense, you won't find much trickery or smoke and mirrors. They run base sets and formations, and operate a classic ball control system. They don't throw deep, only 19 passes attempted over 20 yards this season. Matt Ryan's YPA is ap edestrian 6.7. They run the ball, and run it alot, but the majority of these carries are going to be straight down the throat of the D-Line. Once you get a heavy dose of Michael Turner, you then get a healthy second serving of Jason Snelling, and the drop off is not as big as you'd think.

              But this team is scoring points and lots of them. How do they do it?

              It's simple:

              1. They don't turn the ball over
              2. They don't waver from the system
              3. They have arguably the best WR in the league
              4. They will wear you down until you want to quit

              Ryan is going to throw to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, and they are going to see most of the targets. More than 50% of Ryan's completions are to these two. White is nearly indefensible. The only thing that can likely stop White is his hands. The Ravens had some success by throwing exotic schemes at him. I am sure Spags and company will have something special drawn up for White. Take him out of the game and the Falcons do not have the receivers to beat many teams. It's a two man show in Atlanta, and they need both of them to come up big when playing on the road.

              Defensively, the strategy doesn't differ much. The Falcons give up a high rate of completions in the passing game, and they give up alot of yards. They give up 46.4% 3rd down conversions, next to last in the league. The run defense is stingy, but most know you need to beat the Falcons by passing underneath them. So how do the Falcons keep the scoring down?:

              1. They bend but don't break
              2. They dominate TOP offensively
              3. They intercept alot of passes

              For any quarterback, the most attempts they have, the more likely they are going to make a mistake.

              The Rams match up well here. Jackson should be able to manufacture yards up the middle. Bradford should be able to find open lanes, but he may need to throw 50+ times to win this game. The Falcons have...
              -11-18-2010, 08:26 AM
            • AugustaRamFan
              Looking down the Road ... The Falcons
              by AugustaRamFan
              Here is a snipet from the Falcons Team Site.

              Apparently, the Falcons are an early preseaon pick to make the playoffs. Hmmm!! I did not know that.

              Game 2 could be a good test for the defense. The offense may have a better fate. Look for a high scoring battle. Last team with the ball may win.

              Aug. 30, 2004



              Although there is a buzz around the Falcons as being a contender to reach the playoffs, there still is plenty of cause for concern in Atlanta. QB Michael Vick may be healthy — well, relatively healthy following his minor hamstring problem — but the play of the Falcons’ defense has thrown up a red flag. Despite undergoing a coaching change — Wade Phillips is out, Ed Donatell is in — and a shift in schemes — bye-bye, 3-4; hello, 4-3 — this year’s Falcons have been giving up big plays and many points during the preseason. We’re told the problem goes much deeper than just a team adjusting to a new system. Although veterans Ray Buchanan, Tyrone Williams and Juran Bolden were dumped in favor of Jason Webster and rookie DeAngelo Hall, the changes haven’t really improved the “D” much. Hall is very talented, but he’s raw, and Webster isn’t exactly a star. Donatell hopes to get things straightened out, but he will have to get a bigger pass rush to take some pressure off the secondary.

              ...Keep in mind Hall we be out for 4-6 more weeks - minimum.

              ARF
              -09-03-2004, 07:10 AM
            • AvengerRam_old
              What is the Rams' biggest match-up advantage against the Falcons?
              by AvengerRam_old
              Which match up is the most favorable?
              Rams WRs vs. Falcons CBs
              7.50%
              3
              Rams TEs vs. Falcons LBs/S
              12.50%
              5
              Rams pass rush v. Falcons pass protection
              72.50%
              29
              Rams run D vs. Falcons running game
              5.00%
              2
              Other match-up (which one?)
              2.50%
              1
              -09-13-2013, 09:21 AM
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