Atlanta, GA – Matt Ryan had 374 yards passing with a pair of touchdowns, Julio Jones put forth a monster 11-catch, 182-yard performance and the Atlanta Falcons held off a late St. Louis Rams comeback to take a 31-24 victory on Sunday.
Ryan was extremely efficient, completing 33-of-43 throws to help the Falcons (1-1) bounce back from their Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
"Big win for our team today," Ryan said. "Obviously you like to get the first one as fast as possible. Nice to get the win today. I thought collectively as a team we did what we needed to do."
Jones had an 81-yard touchdown to highlight his impressive day, Osi Umenyiora scored on a 68-yard interception return and Steven Jackson reached the end zone against his former team before leaving with an injured thigh.
Sam Bradford threw for touchdowns on his last three possessions, but the Rams (1-1) were unable to dig themselves out of 24-3 halftime deficit. Rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin caught two touchdowns in the setback.
"I think it says a lot about the guys we have in this locker room," Bradford said. "That's two weeks in a row we found ourselves down, this game we were down pretty big early in the game. No one gave up. We knew all it was going to take was one play to get us going. We kept fighting. Made it somewhat of a game towards the ends. Unfortunately we came up a little short."
Austin's first NFL touchdown catch and Bradford's 3rd-and-goal throw to Austin Pettis on the Rams' ensuing touch brought St. Louis within a score, 24-17, with 11:57 remaining, but the Falcons finally answered.
After getting shut out in the third quarter, Atlanta was able to extend its margin with its first touch of the fourth. Ryan went 8-for-8 and Jones hauled in three of those passes on the drive before Jason Snelling rumbled from 11 yards out and into the end zone to create a 31-17 lead with 6:12 left to play.
Bradford ended 32-of-55 for 352 yards, throwing his third touchdown pass of the day to Austin from 10 yards out with 2:09 remaining. The Rams needed a stop on 3rd-and-1 to get the ball back, but couldn't get it, letting Snelling rush for 22 yards to seal the outcome.
Jackson, the Rams' all-time leading rusher, played against his former team for the first time in a Falcons uniform. However, his appearance was brief. While capping Atlanta's opening drive with an 8-yard touchdown catch, Jackson apparently injured his thigh while diving for the pylon. He was seen walking to the locker room afterward and did not return.
Jones' long touchdown near the end of the first quarter made it 14-0 Falcons. On 3rd-and-7, Ryan fired down the field to a streaking Jones, who broke one tackle before cruising to the end zone for an 81-yard score.
The Rams traveled 48 yards on their first touch of the second quarter and even converted a 4th-and-short for a fresh set of downs, but on the following play Bradford had a pass deflected right into the hands of Umenyiora, who sprinted 68 yards down the sideline for a score to increase Atlanta's cushion to 21.
Bradford bounced back on the ensuing possession, connecting with Chris Givens for a 47-yard completion. The Rams trekked all the way to the Atlanta 11, but were forced to settle for a Greg Zuerlein 29-yard field goal.
After an exchange of punts, Atlanta regained control with just over three minutes left. It used most of the clock, leaving just nine seconds left in the half after Matt Bryant's 38-yard boot created a 24-3 lead.
Austin secured his first NFL touchdown catch late in the third to bring the Rams within 24-10. Bradford completed four long throws on the scoring drive before finding Austin in the front right corner of the end zone.
Atlanta went three-and-out on the last possession of the third quarter and the Rams marched down the field in eight plays to make it a one score game. The drive was highlighted by a 23-yard run from Bradford, and on 3rd-and-goal, the quarterback tossed a 3-yard touchdown to Pettis to make it 24-17.
The Falcons avoided their first 0-2 start since 2007 ... The Rams were attempting to go for their first 2-0 start since 2001 ... Pettis had eight catches for 78 yards, Austin had six for 47 yards and Givens totaled 105 yards receiving on five catches.