Report card: Falcons handled their business against woeful Rams

Even without Julio Jones, the Falcons easily beat the Rams 42-14 on Sunday. The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and Jennifer Williams break down the Falcons’ win.

Vic Beasley Jr. heads toward the end zone with a fumble recovery TD in Sunday's 42-14 victory over the Rams. (Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

Vic Beasley Jr. heads toward the end zone with a fumble recovery TD in Sunday’s 42-14 victory over the Rams. (Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

The Falcons handled their business against the woeful Los Angeles Rams.

They jumped on them early and didn’t left them off the hook.

The Falcons (8-5) are tied for first-place in the NFC South with the surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) but still in control of their own destiny.

If both the Falcons and Buccaneers win out to finish 11-5, the Falcons would win the NFC South by virtue of a tiebreaker.

Here are the grades:

Game ball: Vic Beasley put on a show.

Quarterbacks, B.  Quarterback Matt Ryan played three quarters and completed 18 of 28 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns. Matt Schaub came on in the fourth quarter to close out the game.  Ryan eclipsed the 4,000 yard passing mark for the sixth straight season. That streak ties Peyton Manning 1999-2004 for the second longest streak in NFL history.

Running backs, C. Against the Rams’ stout defense, the Falcons’ rushing attack didn’t get rolling. Running back Tevin Coleman finished with two rushing touchdowns as he had eight rushes for 36 yards. Devonta Freeman was held to 6 yards on six carries. “LA has one of the best defenses in the league, specifically the front four,” Ryan said. “They are tough to go against and they made it difficult for us.” Terron Ward closed out the game with 10 carries for 24 yards. Overall, the Falcons rushed 25 times for 66 yards for a paltry 2.6 yards per carry average.

Wide receivers/Tight ends, A. With starters Julio Jones (turf toe) and Mohamed Sanu (groin) out, the Falcons’ backup wide receivers knew they would be on the spot against the Los Angeles Rams. They all chipped in to help carry the offense against a stout Rams. Nick Williams led the Falcons with four catches and had 49 yards. Taylor Gabriel had three catches for 82 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown catch. Aldrick Robinson had three catches for 42 yards. Justin Hardy had two catches for 9 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown catch on a nice back-shoulder fade. “It’s a brotherhood,” Robinson said. “If my brother can’t fight, I have to fight for him. Everybody knew that and we all stepped up.”

Offensive line, C. Left tackle Jake Matthews turned in a gutty performance after leaving last week’s game against Kansas City with a sprained left knee. He played with a brace on. He played 46 of 58 offensive snaps (79 percent) as Tom Compton came on in relief. The line couldn’t block the Rams’ nasty defensive front in the run game.  The also gave up two sacks and five quarterback hits.

Defensive line, A. The pass rush was lively as Vic Beasley recorded three sacks and the Falcons came up with five quarterback hits. Courtney Upshaw continues to shine in his conversion to defensive tackle. He had a forced fumble. Recently signed defensive end Malliciah Goodman played 15 snaps.

Linebackers, B. Deion Jones, who had an interception return for a touchdown, led the unit with five tackles. Rams running back Todd Gurley, the former Georgia star, was held to less than 100 yards rushing for the 16th consecutive game and was not happy about it. He rushed for 61 yards on 16 carries and scored a touchdown. The Rams rushed 23 times for 104 yards for a 4.5 yards per carry average. Tavon Austin had 27 yards on two reverses.

Defensive backs, B. The Falcons defense held Rams QB Jared Goff to a 54.4 quarterback rating, which is the lowest rating the defense has allowed all season. The defense also scored two touchdowns for the second time in franchise history (week four – 2015 vs. Houston Texans). The defense had 10 pass breakups.

Special teams, B. Punter Matt Bosher averaged 51.9 yards on eight punts. Returner Eric Weems had four fair catches on the punts. Aldrick Robinson had one kickoff return for 16 yards. Paul Worrilow made a heads-up recovery when Rams returner Michael Williams fumbled the opening kickoff.

Coaching, A-plus. The Falcons didn’t play down to the level of the woeful opposition. Falcons coach Dan Quinn and his staff had the team ready to play. They didn’t mess around with the Rams. They jumped on them from the opening kickoff and didn’t let up until it was 42-0 late in the third quarter. It had to be nice for the coaches to see the team bounce back after the tough 29-28 loss to Kansas City.

NEXT UP: The Falcons (8-5) are set to play the San Francisco 49ers (1-12) at 4:05 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

GAME 12: Chiefs 29, Falcons 28

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GAME 11: Falcons 38, Cardinals 19

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GAME 10: Eagles 24, Falcons 15

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PHOTOS: Falcons fall to the Eagles

GAME NINE: Falcons 43, Buccaneers 28

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GAME EIGHT: Falcons 33, Packers 32
 

GAME SEVEN: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 in OT

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GAME SIX: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24

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Ryan Schraeder, offensive line rebounds in second half

Julio Jones: ‘It was just a missed call’

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GAME FIVE: Falcons 23, Broncos 16

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Coleman amassed 163 yards to power the offense

Vic Beasley has breakout game with 3.5 sacks

Kemal Ishmael moved to linebacker, led team in tackles

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Photos: Falcons battle the Broncos

GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33

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Tweetcap: Falcons 48, Panthers 33

Old pro Freeney shows new trick with Falcons

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Alford battled; Collins to return

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GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32

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Keanu Neal makes strong debut for Falcons

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GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28

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Trufant’s heads-up play saves the day

Tight ends help to power offense

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Matthews, Schraeder held Mack sack-less

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GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24

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