The third-seeded Rams finished 11-6 in their turnaround season under first-year coach Sean McVay. They could not overcome an early 13-0 deficit and lost in their first playoff game at the Coliseum since 1979.
"We're not content with the way this season ended," McVay said, "but it doesn't take away from the fact that our players and our group of coaches accomplished a lot of things where we feel like we're building a foundation where that trajectory is pointing upward."
McVay said the game wasn't too big for his team — which included only six players with playoff experience — but he and his players noted the Falcons' recent playoff history.
"They're not the reigning NFC champs for no reason,"
On a night when Ryan and receiver
Gurley rushed for 101 yards in only 14 carries and
"It took a little bit longer than usual for us to settle in," said Goff, who completed 24 of 45 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown to Cooper Kupp. "Ultimately, myself and all of us didn't do enough to win."
The Rams rarely got inside the 20-yard line, and struggled when they did.
"We didn't get it done," offensive lineman
"[The Falcons] ended up doing a great job on their offense of using up the clock to the point where we couldn't use our run game anymore, and it cost us."
The Rams also gave up points after they muffed a punt and
"They started the game off and made some big plays for turnovers and gave themselves a lot of momentum, so we were in a tough spot from the jump," linebacker
Meantime, Ryan and the Falcons played virtually error free.
"We always preach turnovers and we didn't get any; we lost the turnover battle," cornerback
Ryan, who completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards, showed his mettle on the decisive series.
The Rams had pulled to within 19-13 early in the fourth quarter when Ryan went to work.
He completed a short pass to
"Connor Barwin was up the field so I had to stop — didn't stop probably as gracefully as I liked," Ryan said. "Kept my feet, which was good, tried to give Julio an opportunity toward the front pylon."
McVay held out starters in the season finale against the
The defense came out strong, but the offense lacked the first-quarter spark it had demonstrated throughout most of the season.
The league's highest-scoring unit looked nothing like the part for most of the first half, and special-team units committed two miscues that enabled the Falcons to take a 13-0 lead.
But the Rams rallied late in the second quarter on Goff's touchdown pass to Kupp and a field goal that pulled the Rams to within 13-10 at halftime.
"Watching the way we fought back to get 10 straight at the end of the half … there are examples of doing it the right way," McVay said of his team's resiliency.
The Falcons took more than eight minutes and drove to the Rams' seven-yard line on the opening possession of the second half, but the Rams' defense stepped up and ended the threat, forcing the Falcons to settle for Bryant's third field goal.
The Rams appeared to get a lift when Goff connected with receiver Woods for a 25-yard gain, but they could not get another first down on the drive.
Ryan took advantage, completing two passes to Jones as the Falcons moved down the field. The Rams defense once again stopped the Falcons, but Bryant's 54-yard field goal increased the lead to 19-10.
Gurley got going in the fourth quarter, breaking off runs of 14 and 33 yards that set up Ficken's 32-yard field goal that pulled the Rams to within 19-13.
But Ryan connected with Jones for the decisive touchdown and the Rams could not come back.
Goff led a drive to the Falcons' five-yard line, but his fourth-down pass to Sammy Watkins in the end zone was broken up, ending the hope for a comeback.
Goff said the Rams would learn from the experience but thought they were good enough to go on in the playoffs.
"We didn't want it to end this quickly," he said.